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Miller doesn't disappoint Penney




by Jenni Rutherford in Indianapolis


In real life Reggie Miller was everything Tall Black shooting guard Kirk Penney thought he would be.

The Indiana Pacers NBA player, starred in the USA's 110-62 win over the New Zealand men's basketball team for just 12 minutes scoring five points but for University of Wisconsin's Penney that was enough.

"When I was a little kid I used to watch him run off screens and shoot," said the 21-year-old. "He is probably the best I have ever seen as shooter. He'd come round a screen and pull up, like it's nothing."

"It was awesome just to follow him round on court. I got to guard him one on one and just weave round the screens with him. It was cool. He would start weaving and I'm, 'this is what it's like, this is how he plays' because I had watched him on TV all the time."

Penney top scored for the Tall Blacks with 16 points and while on the court he acted the ultimate professional but inside he was buzzing to be marking an NBA star.

"It was a thrill to have the opportunity to have the opportunity to play against him," Penney said. "He is a veteran who I have watched since I was so young."

"As a shooter you like watching shooters, seeing how they get over and how they do."

However Penney learned nothing he didn't already know from his on court lesson from the master.

"I knew what I already knew - he's a great shooter."

The promising 1.95m guard, who is captain of his Wisconsin University Badgers in his final, senior year this season, has not been entirely comfortable on court during the championships, despite a better than average scoring rate for the New Zealanders.

A collision with forward Phill Jones in practise prior to the Indianapolis tournament has seen Penney play the championships wearing a mouthguard.

"We were all in eachother's faces trying to keep the intensity and up and then bang I'm on my back." he said.

Jones' elbow connection with Penney's front teeth loosening one which has since turned grey.

Jones had stitches in his elbow, while Penney is taking no more chances with his Colgate smile.

Not unusual protective equipment to be seen on the basketball court, Penney finds it hard to play with the plastic ice hockey guard in.

"I can't stand it. It makes it hard to communicate."

Penney went to the dentist on Wednesday and was told to be extra careful in order to save the tooth.

"He said I had to baby it so that the blood can start running back into it. It got hit again yesterday in the game [against Germany] it got knocked back again and I had to push it forward. The dentist said that it would die if I don't baby it and it might die anyway so I said I am wearing a mouthguard no matter what."

Penney will line up with the Tall Blacks in their must win game against China in a bid to qualify for the quarterfinals on Thursday NZT.

Source: nzoom

Date published: Sep 05, 2002