Week In Review
We started this week off with a very uninspiring victory at home over Texas Tech. In reality, this game shouldn’t have even been close. We missed 17 free throws. Seventeen points we left at the line and just half of those would have made a huge difference. The reality of this game was Deniz Kilicli played the best game he has played, maybe ever. He did everything for us- Texas Tech’s bigs got in foul trouble (3 of them fouled out) because of him. He scored 25 points and contributed 8 rebounds in 38 minutes of action. He drew defenders inside and opened up others for shots. He put everything together in this game. It’s such a shame that he hasn’t done that consistently for the past four years. We could have won many more games. But this highlights the current state of this year’s basketball team: we will only go as far as Kilicli carries us. Never thought I’d say that, but he’s become the focal point of our offense and is the only player we can consistently rely on, right now. Let’s hope he continues to step up.
As for everyone else, this game shouldn’t have been close but it was because we let down in the second half consistently. We just can’t play 40 minutes and don’t know how to respond to pressure. We are our own worst enemy. We do as much to hinder our success as our opponents do. And it doesn’t really look like that is going to get any better this year. Coincidentally, the officials in this game were absolutely dreadful, but we might have actually gotten the better end of the officiating for once. Texas Tech’s coach wasn’t too happy after the game. Can’t say I blame him, but we’ll take whatever help we can get.
Following that game, we traveled to Kansas State for a Big Monday matchup. This was Huggins’ first game in Manhattan since he left KState to come to WVU, and somewhat surprisingly he was given a warm reception from the crowd. Unfortunately, our team didn’t fare as well. Aside from another solid performance from Kilicli, this game was ugly. We couldn’t run offense, we couldn’t defend, we lost our cool. Everything that could go wrong went wrong. Kilicli got fouled hard while taking a shot and no foul was called, and Huggins got a technical while running onto the court in protest. Eron Harris pushed a defender over in the middle of the court and received a technical, fouling out of the game. The officiating was borderline worst I’ve seen in my entire life It was really an embarrassment to the game to an extent I can’t even quantify it. But in the end, we doomed ourselves in this game. Coach Huggins summed it up best after the game:
“We panic, as soon as someone gets up on us and we get pressure on it, we panic. It’s not like they have a knife or a gun or a sword, and they’re not allowed to touch you, so why would you panic? You find out about people in times of adversity, you find out what people are made of. Reality is I probably overscheduled because I thought we were better than what we are. I don’t think I’ve ever overjudged a group like I’ve overjudged this group…. I don’t know that I’ve ever been, 26 games in, and I’m still searching for a guy I can rely on.”
A lot of people have been mumbling about Huggs maybe losing a step, maybe he doesn’t have it anymore. I disagree though. No coach would have gotten this much out of the players on the roster. His faith in Kilicli, when everyone else, myself included, had given up on him, demonstrates that Huggins still has what it takes.
“Deniz has never quit. As big as Deniz is.. [when we] run sprints, Deniz never stops, never rolls on the floor. He plays, he fights through things. That’s why I thought, when a whole lot of people thought Deniz wasn’t the answer, I thought he was.”
Coach also injected some humor after the game when talking about a rowdy Kansas State fan at the game: “People are so brave. By God if you by a $22 ticket, it makes you brave. When the reality is, they’re cowards.” He tells it like it is, folks, and that’s why I love him so much.
Player of the Week: Deniz Kilicli: 41 points, 12 rebounds in 65 minutes
The Turk is our only consistent option on offense right now. He wins this award without question this week. It sure would be nice if he could make more free throws though.
- Saturday 2/23 vs. Oklahoma State
- Wednesday 2/27 vs. Baylor
Back to back home games on tap for the Mountaineers this week. Hopefully the lack of travel helps. We’ve lost games to both of these teams already, and neither of them were very close. Hopefully we fare better at the Coliseum, but I don’t have much hope for that.
News and Notes
Nothing comes to mind this week.