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January 15, 2012

HERTZEL COLUMN: Kilicli different breed for WVU

MORGANTOWN — The problem with society in this day and age is that we take everything too seriously.

Certainly there are problems that face our society that are not laughing matters, but the world of sports is surely not one of them. That is our escape, our way of releasing our emotions and having a good time.

That is why, in what was a rather impressive victory by West Virginia University over Rutgers on Saturday, an 84-60 thumping, it is all right to find a moment of humor and, as always, the humor was brought to us by the greatest Turkish import since the bath, Deniz Kilicli.

Kilicli is one of those people who do nothing in a normal manner.

He is just one of a kind, a different breed.

He shoots the basketball left-handed, except at the free-throw line, where he shoots right-handed.

He came to America and learned to speak English himself.

Guitar? Self-taught, and pretty darn good at it, too.

But here’s a bit of advice for Deniz Kilicli:

Leave the fast breaks to the guards.

In midst of this manhandling of a not-quite-ready-for-primetime Rutgers team, the basketball found its way into Kilicli’s hands at the start of a fast-break situation.

Kilicli leading a fast break is like having Mike Tyson in a sewing bee or Bill Kirelawich in a singing contest.

It’s a no-no.

Oh, Kilicli acted like he was right at home, dribbling down the court as he took bouncing strides that covered far more ground than any fast-break leader ever covered before. He was prancing like one of those gazelles in a National Geographic feature about the plains of Africa.

Somewhere near the half-court line, Kilicli realized that he really isn’t supposed to be leading fast breaks, and he caught a black uniform traveling down the court to his right.

He was going to make the pass, but this would be a pass to remember, for he tried to go with the no-look pass that he’d seen so many nifty guards make on television.

When last seen, he was looking to his right, the man he was passing too was to his left and the ball … well, it was floating off to nowhere, Kilicli bailed out only by the fact that he was fouled as he made the pass.

It was in truth, a rather hysterical moment in the history of Coliseum basketball, coming as it did before a reunion of former basketball players who returned for a party and to watch John Flowers once again do ”The Dougie” as he took a break during the Japanese All-Star Break.

There never was an explanation of what transpired from Kilicli, but it’s safe to assume that he would offer a similar explanation to the no-look pass he tried to pull off down in Charleston earlier this year against Morehead Stadium.

“That was the Tragic Johnson coming out in me,” he said then.

What made this intriguing enough to draw attention to it is that it came in a game where the Mountaineers pulled off a textbook fast break as part of their arsenal. This fast break was run the way it should be run.

Guard Gary Browne made a steal and Kevin Jones took off flying down the floor. Browne spotted him ahead of the field, made a classic bounce past that Jones caught in mid-stride, taking another step for skying toward the banners hung high in the Coliseum and ending it with a thunderous slam dunk.

That was part of 24 Jones points in yet another double-double, his 13th in 18 games, as he continues to intimidate the Big East.

“I know I put in the extra work to have these kind of games,” Jones said. “I’m not surprised by it.”

Neither is coach Bob Huggins, who says Jones is the best player in the Big East to date, a statement that no rationally thinking human being would contradict.

As for Kilicli, he has not yet reached the point where he is the best player in the Big East, but if you want to say that watching him play is more entertaining than watching any other player, rest assured you are not wrong.

Put him together with Jones and Truck Bryant and you the heart and soul of this Mountaineer team.

“They manhandled us,” Rutgers coach Mike Rice said of the threesome.

Email Bob Hertzel at and follow him on Twitter at

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