Saturday, March 18, 2000

Penn's shot is getting hot at right time




BY GEOFF HOBSON
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NASHVILLE, Tenn. — For all those Ohio State fans who fantasize what would happen if Scoonie Penn could shoot straight for the full 40 minutes, the Buckeyes give you Friday night's first-round game here in the NCAA South Regional.

        Penn, the Buckeyes' ingenious but inconsistent point guard, nailed eight of his first nine shots against overmatched Appalachian State. So it was no coincidence OSU rolled to an 87-61 victory as Penn finished 9-of-11 for a game-high 23 points.

        Penn hit nothing but net Friday, including his best long-range gunning of the season. He made five of seven 3-pointers, better than his 5-for-10 effort at Michigan State for a season-high 30 points last month.

        But since that night in East Lansing, Penn has been ice cold. In the six games heading into the NCAAs, he shot 21 percent. He missed 13 of 16 attempts in the Big Ten Tournament fiasco against Penn State.

        “At every practice, he takes 10 shots in 30 seconds and he'll hit seven or eight every time,” OSU assistant coach Rick Boyages said. “I wonder if he gets caught up in the orchestration out there and isn't always looking for his shot.”

        But Penn is looking at the NCAAs as a new season, and he may start to get a little greedy, as he was last year when he led OSU to the Final Four. Plus, the week layoff helped his shooting legs.

        “There are times I'm looking to get guys the ball in the spots they need it and I forget about myself offensively, and that might affect my shot,” Penn said. “I'm not saying I'll get greedy, but I know this is the NCAAs and this is where I have to look for my shot a little more than I have been.”

        When Penn hit that fifth 3-pointer Friday, he twirled his body running back up the floor, swung a fist through the air and exulted, “Yeah!”

        “All I care about is that we're winning,” Penn said. “But people don't look at that. They look at the stats, see my shooting percentage isn't very high, but they forget what else I do out there to help my team get to the point where we are.”

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