The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Sports

February 1, 2010

WVU's Kilicli to debut against Pitt

MORGANTOWN — The painful wait is over for West Virginia freshman Deniz Kilicli.

Benched for the first 20 games of the season for an NCAA rules violation, Kilicli is hoping to give the Mountaineers’ inside game a late-season boost.

The 6-foot-9 Kilicli is expected to make his debut on Wednesday night when No. 6 West Virginia (17-3, 6-2 Big East) hosts No. 22 Pittsburgh (16-5, 6-3).

One thing’s for sure. His days of boredom are over.

“You watch the games on television and you come here and sit on the bench and can’t do anything about it,” Kilicli said. “It’s so hard. You want to compete. There are all those great players out there and I want to compete with them.

“Wednesday I’ll be able to.”

Kilicli (pronounced Kah-LITCH-luh) was supposed to be in the mix for West Virginia right away but learned his fate two weeks before the regular season started. He played on a Turkish team during the 2007-08 season that included a professional player, which isn’t allowed under NCAA rules.

Kilicli was allowed to practice but couldn’t travel with the Mountaineers.

During his down time, he’d work out, head to the basketball office to study game film or just think up a song on his guitar, which he’s played for 12 years. His favorites are ’70s and ’80s rock ’n’ roll.

While his teammates were playing on the road during the Thanksgiving and New Year’s holidays, Kilicli was back on campus and spent Christmas there, too.

He was able to participate in two exhibition games, averaging 13 points, five rebounds and three assists against overmatched opponents.

Coach Bob Huggins said it will be touch-and-go trying to work the 265-pound Kilicli into the rotation to help offset players like Pittsburgh’s 6-foot-10 Gary McGhee.

Huggins just wants to make sure Kilicli is up to speed on his system.

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