By Tony Caridi for WVUsports.com
February 20, 2011 11:27 AM
Much has been said and written about this season’s Mountaineer men’s basketball team. There have been stories about the team’s strengths; there have been stories about its weaknesses. But to my knowledge, no one has spent any significant time on the big story, which unequivocally is this team’s need of a face.
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That’s right a face.
To be recognized and relevant in the congested sports and entertainment world you must have a face - a calling card, an attraction. A face identifies who you are and what your about. Your face becomes your brand. And everyone needs a brand.
In recent years, WVU sports teams have had a wonderful run of faces, and as a result, the Mountaineer athletic program has received unprecedented national exposure. Kevin Pittsnogle had tenure as our face. He not only became our poster child but also a verb.
Even though he wore a helmet, Pat White was a Mountaineer face that became a household name. Joe Alexander, the dunking angelic assassin, enjoyed a meteoric rise to face status with a March Madness that won’t soon be forgotten.
Last year, of course, it was Da’Sean Butler whose face Bob Huggins literally held on the court at the Final Four. Any sports fan from Miami to Medford, Oregon knew those faces.
This all leads to this question: which Mountaineer will become the next face? That’s actually rhetorical because I know the answer.
It’s sophomore Deniz Kilicli. You know Deniz, he’s the guy with the wacky hook shot and furry face, who looks more like a mountain than a Mountaineer. His recent 19-point explosion against Pitt was his national coming out party. In the next few weeks he’ll have several more golden opportunities to achieve the facial pinnacle.
Keep in mind that becoming a face is a process, not an event. In fact, it may not happen this season. However, with two years remaining, the Istan-Bull needs to assume the throne as West Virginia’s face.
Faceless teams are non-descript blips. When they’re on television you pass by their game and watch Seinfeld reruns. Teams with a face make people stop what they’re doing and watch.
Get ready Deniz and smile. Here’s hoping the Mountaineers establish their face before the final horn sounds on this season.