Site hosted by Build your free website today!

Wisconsin State Journal; Madison, Wis.; Mar 6, 2003; Vic Feuerherd and Tom Mulhern Wisconsin State Journal;

Kirk Penney awoke from one his dreams Wednesday night when he played his final game at the Kohl Center for the University of Wisconsin men's basketball team.

Penney, a native of Auckland, New Zealand, was introduced to the capacity crowd of 17,142 in a brief ceremony, along with his father, Paul, before the game and then scored 14 points in UW's Big Ten title-clinching 60-59 victory over Illinois.

"I've become a part of Madison," Penney said before the game. "I'll always think of this place so fondly. You're so proud to be a Badger. Those feelings will never change.

"I was a young kid just out of high school coming to America to fulfill a dream. It's been nothing short of a dream. The words don't even do it justice - winning, losing, the friendships, the teaching."

Penney, in the top 10 in six categories in the UW record book, was praised in much the same manner by UW coach Bo Ryan, the third coach Penney has played for here after Dick Bennett and Brad Soderberg.

"I think the University of Wisconsin has been very fortunate to have a player like him and I think Kirk Penney has been very fortunate to have the University of Wisconsin," Ryan said.

"When a guy like that finishes his days playing in any institution, that is a day that everybody should be very thankful for, but also know that they only come along every once in a while."

Penney seemed a little tight at the start of the game. He missed his first 3-point attempt, although he drained his next one to give UW a 10-6 lead.

He later fumbled the ball out of bounds and almost had another turnover a short time later. He made 4 of 10 shots from the field, and just 1-for-4 behind the arc, while scoring nine points in the first half.

Penney's father, who moved to Madison during Kirk's freshman year, used the same word as his son to describe the past four years.

"It's a dream," Paul Penney said at halftime. "I'm sure I was more nervous than (Kirk) today. My heart is in my mouth. I just want us to win this bloody thing."

The father showed he needs to work on his ballhandling a bit. After being presented with a basketball on the court before the game, he attempted to dribble it and it bounced away, causing him to scramble after it down the court.

"I didn't realize that court was so dead," he joked. "It did not come up. I'm used to bouncing on concrete, mate."

Clearly, Kirk Penney has become a fan favorite, as the loud ovation for him before the game showed. He is the only senior in this year's class and he should become the program's winningest player before the season is over.

Penney now has been a part of 81 victories, tying him for the school record with Charlie Wills and Travon Davis, who were seniors last year. Penney's run at UW included a trip to the NCAA Final Four as a freshman and back-to-back Big Ten titles the past two seasons.

"I think they love their Badgers, that's really what you could say," Paul Penney said of the reception for his son.