Brian Cook and his boys from the
"It's just an unbelievable feeling that we feel right now because we worked for so long," said Penney, who played all 40 minutes for the first time this season in helping the Badgers claim their first outright Big Ten title since 1947 and their first back-to-back conference titles since 1923 and '24. "We always said, 'We haven't won anything yet, we haven't won anything yet.' But now we have. Back-to-back Big Ten championships."
The floor-to-ceiling Kirk Penney love fest commenced during
a pre-game ceremony honoring the
"I don't think words can express what that
meant," Penney said after the
Penney's appreciation for the kind gestures didn't go unnoticed as he returned the favor by pouring in 14 points, including a three-pointer that found its mark from 3 feet beyond the arc at the start of the second half, launching the Badger faithful into a frenzy.
While he didn't have one of his more memorable offensive performances in his Kohl Center swan song, Penney did all of the little things - including diving into a row of photographers for a ball heading out of bounds - that made it clear as to what the senior guard means to this team.
Over the course of his career, Penney has steadily improved in virtually every statistical category. He capped the regular season with career-bests in points (16.4 per game), rebounds (six) and assists (3).
And now, after focusing so diligently on the task at hand, Penney finally allowed himself to reflect on what the last four years have meant to him.
"I've always been preparing for that mentally," Penney said of his final home game. "Just keeping your focus because it is emotional.
"You know walking in there it's the last time you're gonna do it, but for me it was almost a matter of just going through the routines of what I've done every home game the time I've been here and that certainly helped. Now, I guess, the emotion can come out a little bit."
Brett Longdin is the sports coordinator for Journal Interactive.