Badgers' Penney makes himself known at Worlds
by Mike DeCourcy
Kirk Penney's World Championship experience began with a 7-of-23 scar on his box-score line and a gleaming smile across his face.
He scored 19 points in spite of
his inefficiency from the field, and
The New Zealanders did not know
exactly what they might be capable of accomplishing when they arrived for the
start of this tournament, but Penney's experience with the 2000 Wisconsin
Badgers served as evidence that their eventual arrival in a Thursday
quarterfinal game against
Although he is only 21 and one of the few on his team not playing professionally, Penney emerged as the team's top scorer, an indispensable part of its lineup. "He's an unbelievable offensive force," said Pero Cameron, a burly power forward who might be the team's best player.
Listed at 6-5 and 205 pounds, Penney is averaging 17.0 points and shooting 45.3 percent from 3-point range, which is not unexpected for a player who hit 62 threes as a Badgers junior. It is surprising, though, to see the ease and confidence with which he is driving the ball and clearing space with one-dribble moves. His shot is respected enough that opponents dive at nearly every pump-fake, and he shoots or passes with equal confidence after moving into the clear.
"It just completes your game. If someone is going to take away your outside shot, you can counter it," Penney said. "I'm also going into the post a little bit. It all comes into play when you're trying to be as complete as you can."
Penney's play in the
"I really didn't want him in the game," Penney said. "I was trying to get him in foul trouble. And it worked."
Penney accumulated 15 assists in the first six games, primarily by driving deep into the defense and finding open shooters, such as Cameron or Phil Jones. Though he was playing a more varied game and not simply catching and shooting, he turned over the ball just four times in 181 minutes.
"I think driving is something a player always has, because they play that way when they're kids. They don't always just shoot threes," Penney said. "But as you grow up, you're forced to shoot threes because you're so much weaker. And as time goes on, you develop and get stronger and the old habits come back and you can drive to the hoop again.
"You've got to keep developing to improve and be good at all things."
When he began his
That's very much how it appears
The success of
That does not seem out of the
question given his play in
He might be a bit tired when he
"The system allows you to be complete in that you're posting up, you're shooting threes and you're on the perimeter to make plays," Penney said. "But that's something I'll focus on once we're done here with the World Champs."
The world is noticing Kirk Penney now. The nation should know him even better by March.