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Penney battles to bitter end

Former Badger showcases skills

Last Updated: June 6, 2003

Chicago - Sometimes it's the last impression that means the most.

That's Kirk Penney's attitude after the second day of the National Basketball Association pre-draft camp at the Moody Bible Institute. The 6-foot-5 guard, formerly of the University of Wisconsin, shook off a difficult night of shooting by nearly sparking his team to a come-from-behind victory.

However as the final seconds ran out, Penney missed a three from the top of the key and his team, which included former Oklahoma star Hollis Price, suffered a 76-73 loss to a squad that included former Weber State standout Jermaine Boyette.

The miss was Penney's first in crunch time, though he earlier air-balled a wide-open three. Twice during the final 4 minutes he nailed three-pointers and earlier in the half he made a three-point play off a pump fake in the lane.

He led his team with 15 points, making five of 13 shots and 3 of 7 threes.

"You feel like you can play out there; it's just a matter of getting comfortable," he said. "Everyone is watching and you're being evaluated and you want to make sure you put your best foot forward."

Two-thirds of the way through, Penney has enjoyed a solid camp. He averaged 12.5 points in the first two games, hitting 10 of 24 shots and making three of 10 threes.

The two-time all-Big Ten choice made five of 11 shots Wednesday and scored 10 points.

He missed his first 5 three-point attempts at the camp but in the second half Thursday made three of four at one point, proving what scouts have known about him all along and then some.

"He's a little quicker than people think," said Marty Blake, the NBA's director of scouting. "He's a pro shooter and certainly he's as competitive as anybody."

On-the-court competition at the camp concludes today for the 65 players in attendance. Players will undergo physicals and psychological testing through the weekend.

For Penney, the experience has allowed him to cross paths with some of his college rivals. Jerry Holman, who played at Minnesota, is Penney's roommate. Keith Bogans, who injured his ankle in the NCAA tournament when he collided with Penney, is a teammate.

There's also the gallery, which includes many recognizable NBA executives and coaches.

Penney would have to be blind not to notice.

"You have a (look) and then you spin back and (tell yourself), 'Focus, focus,' " he said. "It's pretty cool looking around and seeing Dominique (Wilkins) and Phil Jackson. It's fun to be in the environment and you just want to do as well as you can."




From the June 6, 2003 editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel