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Copyright 2003 Journal Sentinel Inc.  
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

January 4, 2003 Saturday



Penney grins and bears injuries; UW star guard has had little trouble 'moving on'


Madison -- Kirk Penney doesn't make an issue of it but he has been playing in pain lately.

The University of Wisconsin doesn't list injuries to its players because of privacy issues but the day before a 75-51 victory over Ohio on Dec. 23, the 6-foot-5 senior guard suffered a leg and ankle injury that forced him out of practice early and into a boot brace. In the last week, he missed three days of practice because of a back injury that forced him to wear a girdle-type brace.

At one point Thursday in the Badgers' 80-67 victory over Temple, he stood next to the bench instead of taking a seat so his back wouldn't stiffen. It was the only allowance he would make for the injury.

"Every now and then you might get a little ding, but it's a matter of bouncing back and staying fresh and moving on," he said.

Penney's statistics show he has done just that.

Against Temple, he scored 16 points on 6-for-10 shooting, grabbed five rebounds and had five assists in 37 minutes. The 60% shooting was a season high.

He made three of eight shots against Ohio and finished with eight points but shared the team lead in rebounds (seven) and assists (four). He was also nimble enough to play defense against the Bobcats' point guard for a good portion of the game.

"Once the adrenaline starts rushing and you're playing and you're focusing on the game, that's all you're thinking about," he said.

Penney's health at this stage of the season is vital for the Badgers (8-2). They play their final non-conference game of the season today at the Kohl Center against Chicago State (3-8) and open the Big Ten season Wednesday at Michigan.

Earlier this week, coach Bo Ryan got a kick out of the attention paid to Penney's health.

"I played in a time when there were no trainers, sprained my ankle probably about 20 times and was practicing in 10 minutes," the 55-year-old coach said. "There have been a lot of guys who have played well with injuries or had good games. I've seen guys that were 100% healthy stink the gym up."