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Penney gears up for scrum

Last Updated: Feb. 21, 2003

Madison - Paul Penney isn't much of a basketball player, but that doesn't stop him from giving advice to his son.

Much of it comes with a tough-as-nails edge to it. The elder Penney leaves the impression of being someone who, despite his big smile and rosy cheeks, wouldn't mind stepping on the court during a game and showing everyone how to mix it up himself.

"My dad is great," said Kirk Penney, the University of Wisconsin's leading scorer. "He might have a slightly rugby mentality: brawn vs. brawn, there is no playing to the referees or backing down. I love that about him. It's an attitude you've got to have at times."

This is one of them.

Given the unpredictable nature of the Big Ten, Wisconsin isn't down to must-win games yet, but it's close.

At 3 p.m. Saturday, the Badgers (18-6 overall, 8-4 Big Ten) play at Iowa (13-9, 5-6) needing a victory to ease the sting of their surprising loss Wednesday at last-place Penn State and to set up a showdown for first-place Wednesday at home against league-leading Michigan.

As the Badgers' only senior and their leader on offense, Kirk Penney is the natural choice to lead the charge.

Penney has had success at Iowa's Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The last two years, he has averaged 19.5 points and made 55.6% of his shots there (15 of 27).

The Badgers could use a similar performance this afternoon. They along with Purdue, Illinois and Minnesota have just one more loss in the Big Ten than the Wolverines with two weeks left in the regular season.

"It's on the homestretch now and the truly good teams should step up and rise to the challenge," Penney said.

So should the good players.