Despite Deficiencies, Deniz Getting Time - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Despite Deficiencies, Deniz Getting Time


Very little about Deniz Kilicli's senior season has gone the way he and his head coach envisioned when it began.

The team's play as a whole has been unlike what the 6-foot-9 forward expected, but his own individual game has regressed in many statistical categories from his junior season. 

With Kilicli on the court through 19 games, West Virginia as a team is minus-37 in its games. With him out of the game, the Mountaineers are up 64 on the opponent. His Roland Rating, which calculates how a team does with a player in the game compared to without, is minus-51.

Bob Huggins made no secret about his disappointment in his most experienced player when he took his out of the starting lineup and kept him under 20 minutes a game for seven of nine games during one stretch.

Kilicli has been forced to change his outlook for each game, bringing a new perspective that only comes from the bench.

"I played three minutes, if I'm getting two and two, that's pretty good to me," Kilicli said. "If I'm playing five minutes, if I'm getting three points, three rebounds, four rebounds – that's pretty good."

It is a difficult transition to make and even more difficult to admit for a player who has been relegated to an afterthought for much of his final season with the Mountaineers. In a year when the senior was to be counted on as a leader on and off the court, his role was becoming increasingly smaller.

So those small victories, the handful of points and rebounds in less than 10 minutes, are what counted to Kilicli. Not giving his coach reason to yank him from the lineup is one thing, but making any sort of positive impact had become the goal for the forward.

"That's what I've been trying to do, even when I was coming off the bench," Kilicli said. "There's a lot of things written and I heard from people that my offense wasn't going right enough and they're right, so I was like, you know what, I'll just rebound the ball and see what happens. I'll try to help the team out like that. But if you don't have inside scoring, it's hard for us to win games, so Huggs told me to get the ball and score and that's what I try to do."

In two consecutive games now, Huggins has given Kilicli the starting job back and asked him to pound away down low, connecting on shots that he had missed for much of the season and giving WVU a presence in the post that it was severely lacking.

After a slow start against TCU, Kilicli got his act together enough to finish with 11 points and eight rebounds, warranting the nod in the next game at Oklahoma State.

Facing Philip Jurick, who Huggins and staff tried convincing to join Kilicli in Morgantown, the Turk looked active and engaged, ready to do his part to bring the team a road win.

Kilicli moved well, and scored and played over 20 minutes in back-to-back games for the first time since early December.

When he was playing at his best in those two games, even if it only lasted for a small portion of the time he was on the court, he energized his teammates. Watching their big man running down the court for a big dunk at home and driving past his man for a strong layup on the road provides an excitement that has just about disappeared from much of the roster.

"It does a lot for the team," Kilicli said. "For me, it's another bucket. It really does a lot for the team if your big man can make a play over there."

The switch to a four-guard lineup when Kilicli and Aaric Murray could not be counted on was an idea, but it could not hold up with a team that struggles so greatly from the perimeter.

Despite his deficiencies, Kilicli will likely continue to get his opportunities with no one else stepping up in his absence.

The number of games remaining in his WVU career is rapidly approaching zero.

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