The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

March 8, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN-Kilicli deserves much more

MORGANTOWN — It has been wearing on Deniz Kilicli all season, and why shouldn’t it be, because whether he wanted it to be or not, this was his team in the eyes of nearly everyone.

Oh, when Bob Huggins coaches a team, it is his team and his alone, but Kilicli was the lone starting senior, the most visible player on the court because of his presence and, in many ways, the player who most represented the style of physical basketball that Huggins wanted to play.

The problem was that Kilicli is one of those players whose looks are deceiving. On the exterior is intimidatingly big, 260 or so pounds spread across a chiseled body that he worked hard to develop this year, a hard, square jaw under a Mountaineers beard.

Underneath that look, though, there is a sensitive man who has interests that spread beyond the boundaries of a basketball court, almost as dedicated to the music that comes from his guitar as to his basketball playing.

As a role player in the days with Da’Sean Butler and then Kevin Jones as the key men on the team, he was asked to just be strong inside, the game not being run through him. His job was to grab some rebounds, bang on the boards, fight the opposing big man down low.

This year, though, he was thrust into cleanup spot. The offense would run through him, and it would be run by inexperienced kids, freshmen and sophomores, who really were not ready to handle what came with what was needed from them.

Early on in the year Kilicli struggled, and Huggins was publicly critical of him and hard on him. This was, of course, Huggins being Huggins, for that’s the way he coaches, but he also was sending messages to his younger players who would see that if the coach would jump the senior, they better get their stuff in order.

Only they didn’t. Even as Kilicli pulled his season together and of late has been what had been expected of him, reaching a season high in points with 20 in the loss to Oklahoma on Wednesday night, you could see it was taking a toll on him.

He had been there facing the media, being voice of the players for most of the long, hard season, expressing his disappointment in the team and in himself, once going so far as to note that this was simply a bad team with bad players.

And he was including himself in that group.

It finally seems to have gotten to him. Mike Casazza of the Charleston Daily Mail reported in his blog from Oklahoma that Kilicli didn’t have much to say after this game.

“He finished a response to one question in the postgame interview, tensed up, listened to another question, stammered through a reply and slowly stood up and walked away,” Casazza blogged.

Part of it was from falling behind early almost every time on the floor and fighting back only to come up short, then having to explain it later. As his career comes to a close, you feel for him in this department.

But there is something else that has been going on all season in conference play on the floor, something that Huggins finally had to address after what he has seen over and over.

“I don’t understand why when Deniz gets bumped it’s not a foul and when everyone else gets bumped it is a foul. You can’t tell me he doesn’t get bumped every bit as much as they get bumped. It’s so frustrating,” he said.

He wasn’t alone in noting this, for the TV commentators during the Oklahoma game had said nearly the same thing.

Maybe it comes about because of the way he looks or the lumbering style of play that seems to beg contact, but somehow it seems that all year he has been hacked and bumped and mugged without getting nearly the number of whistles he should have drawn.

It’s almost over now, a Saturday Senior Day game against Iowa State and then whatever the Mountaineers can make of the Big 12 Tournament.

It’s a sorry end for a standup guy who tried hard and deserved a whole lot more out of his final year.

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
WVU Sports
  • smallwood-wendell(1)-2.jpg Charges against Smallwood dropped

     West Virginia University running back Wendell Smallwood took to Twitter mid-afternoon Tuesday to express his feelings after charges of witness intimidation against him were dropped by the state of Delaware.
    It took him only three words to say what was on his mind: “God is Good.” Smallwood is now free to return to West Virginia and rejoin his Mountaineer teammates when they open camp for the 2014 season Thursday.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Charges against Smallwood dropped

    West Virginia University running back Wendell Smallwood took to Twitter mid-afternoon Tuesday to express his feelings after charges of witness intimidation against him were dropped by the state of Delaware.

    July 29, 2014

  • Were Bowlsby’s fears about college athletics’ future justified?

    I have never met or even talked to Bob Bowlsby, commissioner of the Big 12 Conference.
    But I did read a lengthy story on his 45-minute address to reporters last week on Media Day in Dallas, Texas. Among other things, Bowlsby forecast a startling change threatening the existence of intercollegiate athletics as we have known for these many, many years.

    July 28, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Big 12 provides plenty of optimism

    This past week the Big 12 held its annual media gathering in Dallas and served up a heaping portion of optimism for the 2014 season that is now upon us, West Virginia University opening its preseason practices on Thursday.
    This is a time of year when no one has lost a game, not even Charlie Weis at Kansas, and it’s a time of year when opinions are more plentiful than tattoos in an NFL locker room.

    July 27, 2014

  • Seider's brother commits to WVU

    West Virginia University’s football team has received a commitment from one of its own.

    July 26, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Big 12 provides much optimism heading into 2014 season

    This past week the Big 12 held its annual media gathering in Dallas and served up a heaping portion of optimism for the 2014 season that is now upon us, West Virginia University opening its preseason practices on Thursday.

    July 26, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU needs White to follow in former receivers’ footsteps

    A year ago Clint Trickett took a lot of grief as the once potent West Virginia offense came unraveled, but there is more that than meets the eye.
    The criticism was not unfounded, of course, although behind each incomplete pass there was the pain Trickett was suffering through to throw it, his rotator cuff in need of surgery.

    July 26, 2014

  • Forsey posts Top 10 finish at World Championships

    Freshman Jillian Forsey of the West Virginia University cross country team finished ninth at the 2014 IAAF World Junior Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon.
    Forsey, a native of Stephenville, Newfoundland and Labrador, was representing Team Canada. She was the first Canadian to cross the finish line in the women’s 5,000-meter run, finishing in ninth place overall in 16:02.55.

    July 26, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Wyant talks about ‘Pappy’ Lewis and other items of interest

    I saved some other interesting observations from the recent interview with Fred Wyant which you may find worth reading.
    He believes a college football coach ought to recruit a quarterback he wants, give him some help, then turn virtually everything over to him and let him go.

    July 26, 2014

  • Forsey posts Top 10 finish at World Championships

    Freshman Jillian Forsey of the West Virginia University cross country team finished ninth at the 2014 IAAF World Junior Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon.

    July 25, 2014

Featured Ads
WVU Sports Highlights
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos