Kilicli helping Gerun adjust to life at WVU
Published: Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 08:10
When West Virginia senior Deniz Kilicli arrived at WVU a few years ago, it was only his second year in the United States since coming from Turkey.
But he had to sit and watch from the sidelines for the Mountaineers’ first 20 games of the season after the NCAA determined he violated amateurism rules by playing on a team with a professional player when he was in Turkey.
Now as a senior who has been through a lot during his career in Morgantown, Kilicli is taking on a leadership role among the whole team – and one player in particular.
Sophomore forward Volodymyr Gerun has found himself in a similar predicament as he prepares for his first year after signing to play for head coach Bob
Huggins late in the offseason.
Gerun was suspended by the NCAA for the first six games of the season Monday for playing three games with a professional team in Ukraine.
"I can relate to what’s going on with him better than anybody can," Kilicli said. "I can provide the best help of anybody. I’m trying my best. I don’t know how much I’m helping him or how much it makes him feel better, but I’m trying my best."
Huggins has touted the 6-foot-10, 240-pound Gerun in the preseason as West Virginia’s most skilled post player.
In the under-18 European championships, Gerun led Ukraine by scoring 18.2 points and grabbing 11.1 rebounds with 2.1 blocks per game.
"Most guys that come over get (suspended) by the way things are structured there," Huggins said. "If we can get Voldy ready by the time he gets eligible, then we’re going to have five (big) guys – which I think is pretty good."
Kilicli said the adjustment period since Gerun got to Morgantown has been tough at times, especially with the news coming out that he won’t get to play right away. But with the experience of having to go through those things in the past, Kilicli has been able to offer up some advice to the Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine, native.
"He’s homesick right now, and you get homesick when stuff is going bad. When everything is really good, you don’t really get homesick," Kilicli said. "He got six games. It’s not really that big of a deal.
"Whatever I say, it’s not going to make him feel better or anything. Believe me, everybody goes through (being homesick). We got (sophomore forward Kevin) Noreen coming from Minnesota. It’s not Ukraine, but it’s still far. They don’t see their family either."
The most important thing for Gerun to do is take the advice of his teammates and talk to them whenever he needs to.
"You’ve just got to go and talk to us. That helps a lot. I was like, ‘I’ve been there. Any time you want to talk to me, come talk to me,’" Kilicli said. "I’m trying to help him as much as I can from my experience that I had when I was a freshman. It’s really hard, but it’s nothing that you can’t get over.
His teammates have said Gerun is one of the most easygoing players on the team, and crack jokes as much as he can. But after just a few months in the country, he’s still having some troubles with the language.
"Of course he has some funny problems with English, but I had it too. I can understand him. Some guys get really shy and they don’t talk; after a while they don’t want to mess up, so they don’t talk. He’s not like that.
"It’s fun to talk to him, and he’ll be fine," he said.