The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

December 4, 2010

Kilicli’s game a work in progress

WVU men visit Miami today

MORGANTOWN — Someone ought to give Deniz Kilicli a GPS for an early Christmas present.

It has nothing to do with West Virginia University’s Saturday’s journey to Miami to face the Hurricanes from the ACC, although it is a basketball matter for the WVU big man.

“He is lost,” said his coach, Bob Huggins, after he scored eight points in the Mountaineers’ 71-50 victory over American University on Wednesday at the Coliseum.

While eight points is not a dismal night, more is expected, just as more than four rebounds are expected, only one of which was gained on the defensive end. The friendly, gregarious Turkish national is just having a hard time getting adjusted to Huggins’ offensive and defensive philosophies.

That normally would sound like bad news, but with the developments on this year’s 5-1 WVU team, it may not be.

See, a year ago, another player was totally lost in the system.

His name is Casey Mitchell, and he is now one of the early-season sensations in basketball, scoring 22.3 points a game.

“What I’m trying to do is get used to (his role in the system). It can take a year, like Casey, or three games or 10 games, I don’t know,” he said.

And, he explains, his situation is not Casey Mitchell’s situation.

“We are different,” he said. “He’s Casey. I’m Deniz.”

There are certain things that Kilicli isn’t doing that he should be doing and other things that he is doing that he shouldn’t be doing.

In the American game, for example, with a comfortable lead, the 6-9 big man stepped outside and shot a 3, not exactly the wisest idea for someone who wants to stay on the court.

“He didn’t like that,” Kilicli said of Huggins. “He said, ‘We’re not going to win with you taking 3s.’”

That was what he told Kilicli on the sideline. What Huggins told the media was “I could kick as many in. I don’t mind him shooting a 3 … if he has a chance to make.”

Right now, Huggins would rather Kilicli work on the problems he’s having with his game. He averages 6.2 points and 4.8 rebounds a game.

“He doesn’t attack the basket,” Huggins said. “Everything is a hook. He has to find a way to get to the basket. Against Vanderbilt, their guy threw up a hook and missed, but he rebounded it and scored. I told Deniz, you never rebound a hook.”

Huggins conclusion on Kilicli?

“It’s going to take time,” he said. “He’s confused, overwhelmed. I’m amazed he understands what he does, having learned the language just a year or so ago.”

A year ago, of course, Kilicli couldn’t get right into it, having to sit out 20 games because of a professionalism problem back in Turkey that was not in his control but that the NCAA decided to enforce.

And so now, as he tries to figure out what Huggins wants, it isn’t smooth for Kilicli.

“I’m thinking too much and it slows down the offense. When I take a bad shot, he takes me out and talks to me,” Kilicli said.

Miami goes into Saturday’s 4 p.m. game with two losses and five victories, the losses coming to No. 19 Memphis and Rutgers, both on the road. They enter the game after an impressive victory over Mississippi that gave the Hurricanes a three-game winning streak.

Durand Scott leads three Miami players into double-digit scoring with 14.2 points a game, along with Reggie Johnson at 12.7 and Malcolm Graham at 12.4.

E-mail Bob Hertzel at

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