Site hosted by Build your free website today!

UW men's basketball: Penney refuses to hang his head

IOWA CITY, Iowa - Kirk Penney has already learned what Steve Alford is trying to teach his Iowa men's basketball team.

It shouldn't be a shock to anyone that the University of Wisconsin senior guard was suffering through a range of emotions - all of them bad - after the Badgers' nightmarish 58-57 loss at Penn State Wednesday night.

"It feels like it's stuck inside of you," Penney said of the frustration he felt following one of the worst games of his career against the Nittany Lions.

He made just 4-of-14 shots from the field. He allowed the game-winning points to be scored when he fouled DeForrest Riley as the freshman scored on a drive with 9 seconds left. He then threw up an errant shot while he was double-teamed instead of passing to an open man when the Badgers had a chance to win the game in the final seconds.

But as the Badgers (18-6, 8-4 Big Ten) prepared for today's Big Ten Conference game against the Hawkeyes (13-9, 5-6) at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Penney had erased all negative thoughts from his mind during two feisty and physical practice sessions with the team.

"You have to harness that emotion the next time you play in a game so you don't go through it again," Penney said. "You do all you can so that emotion is pointed in the right direction: toward hustle, toward making hard cuts rather than any anger-type things."

"It's important," he added, "that you just learn from it."

That's exactly what Alford was trying to stress to his team after they dropped a 79-63 loss at home to Indiana Wednesday night. The Hawkeyes performed miserably on both ends of the floor as they watched the Hoosiers pick up their first conference road win.

"I thought Indiana played well and they're an outstanding team," Alford said, "but I don't think we put up a fight that we've put up all year."

Unfortunately for Alford, he doesn't have any seniors like Penney to help his Hawkeyes recover. They have a short playing rotation made up of young players who look like they've hit the physical and mental wall.

"If all you do is dwell on the bad, bad, bad, then it consumes you and bad becomes a habit," said Alford, whose team has lost six of its last eight games. The only two wins were against Penn State.

"Our guys are on that crossroads where they have to show some very good toughness," he added. "They have to bounce back, know they are very talented, know they are a very solid basketball team, and not worry about the past, learn from the past and get on to the next game."

The Badgers are hoping the Hawkeyes are slow learners because Wisconsin has to win today to keep its Big Ten Conference title hopes alive.

The Badgers, who are tied with Purdue for second place behind Michigan, are one of five teams within one loss of the lead.

It would have been much easier if they had won at Penn State, which hadn't won a conference game prior to beating the Badgers. Now the UW is faced with a situation not unlike last year, when it had to win out to earn a share of the title.

"This is a situation we've gone through and experienced that we really, really didn't want to go through," said Penney. "Our backs are against the wall now and we have to come out and work for every single thing we have."

The Badgers beat the Hawkeyes 74-61 at the Kohl Center earlier this season due to a second-half explosion that erased a 26-25 halftime deficit. Wisconsin scored on its first nine possessions of the second half. The Badgers went on to shoot 64.5 percent after intermission.

What is forgotten from that game is how the Hawkeyes' big men, including 6-foot-11 junior Jared Reiner, 6-9 junior Sean Sonderleiter and 6-7 junior Glen Worley, dominated the Badgers early. The Hawkeyes finished the game outscoring the Badgers 40-32 in the paint.

The Hawkeyes, however, remember. Their big men might have made a bigger impact if the Badgers hadn't gotten such a hot hand in the second half.

"We couldn't get a stop. When you don't get a stop in this game I think it's really hard to get in a flow on the other end," said Alford. "Our defense really impacted our offense in the second half of that game."

The Hawkeyes won't have to worry about the Badgers getting a hot hand if they shoot as poorly today as they did against Penn State. The UW shot 36.7 percent against the Big Ten's worst defensive team.

The combination of Penney, sophomore Mike Wilkinson and junior Freddie Owens made just 8-of-33 shots.

"If you're 8-of-33 with those three guys, you lose by 30 to Illinois," said Ryan.

Ryan added that when a team struggles with its shot, it better make an unbelievable effort on the defensive end. "Our guys played decent defensively (against Penn State)," he said. "But, again, you look at any other team and take those three scorers from the lineup who shoot 23, 24 percent, and it's a blowout."

Harris' status uncertain: Devin Harris did not practice with the University of Wisconsin basketball team Thursday and Friday because of concussion-like symptoms he developed after the Badgers' 58-57 loss at Penn State Wednesday night.

His status for the Badgers' game here today against Iowa is uncertain because of the team's policy of not discussing injuries.

Harris was dressed in sweats and held out of practice Thursday. He dressed for Friday's practice but limited his activity to shooting while the team scrimmaged in preparation for today's game.

The Badgers' sophomore point guard may have suffered the injury when he banged his head during a collision with Penn State players around the 3 minute, 18 second mark of the first half during the team's 58-57 loss to the Nittany Lions Wednesday night at State College.

Harris stayed on the floor briefly during a TV timeout and then sat out a few minutes of the game before returning later in the first half.

Harris finished the game and was one of the team's bright spots during the loss. He had a team-high 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting and had five rebounds.

Harris reportedly didn't start showing any symptoms of a concussion until after the team returned home early Thursday morning.