(Update! Bob Huggins was asked on today’s Big 12 teleconference about Kilicli’s perspective: “If Deniz has figured it out, I want him to come talk to me.”)
Interesting admission from WVU’s revived and suddenly vibrant big man: Part of Deniz Kilicli’s late-season uptick has to do with being at peace playing his game without debilitating fear of reprisal from officials.
He’s consistently posting up with power. He’s using his shoulder aggressively again and again. He’s stampeding across the lane to set up his hook shot. And he’s getting god shots and a lot of free throws.
This wasn’t the case before and he used to get in foul trouble or get into trouble trying to stay away from fouls. Both led to fewer minutes and a lesser impact than what he’s enjoyed the past three weeks.
The struggle was mightiest in Big 12 play and he lost his starting job for four games. He’s been much better, much more active since his return to the starting five.
He said the officiating isn’t different in this conference from what it was in the Big East, but that everyone in his position needed time to get to know what they’d be allowed to do and to then put those things together.
“In the beginning of the year, there were calls I wasn’t even in,” he said. “That doesn’t happen anymore. I think they appreciate if you work hard and try to do what they say. I always ask them, ‘What’s going on, man?’ They’ll tell you before you foul most of the time. ‘Look, man, you’ve got to keep your elbows tucked in.’ Then I try to do that.
“Lots of guys act stubborn and don’t listen to the refs. I listen to them because they can take you out of the game. I respect them and when I do that I think I get the respect back.”