Jasmine Penny: Quiet and Simple Gets it Done

CHICAGO - "It's always the quiet ones you have to watch," goes the maxim. And in Jasmine Penny's case, that maxim is true on both ends.

Quiet? Sure. Her soft demeanor and almost-faint voice lend themselves to a serene quality.

Watch? That too, but only if one appreciates how simple the game of basketball truly is.

Her coach at DePaul, Doug Bruno, summarizes the person and the player.

"She is a really great character person. She is a very intelligent player. When she hears a coach tell her to shoot when she is open, she takes that simplicity and applies it. She is constantly taking shots she can make, and she rarely takes shots that she can't make."

But as with almost all great accomplishments, it is the hard road that gets one there.

Penny's career at DePaul has been like that of a lot of college basketball players, first starring in high school, where she led her Logansport, Indiana, team to a 21-2 record her senior year, averaging 24.5 ppg and becoming the Berries' all-time leading scorer, and then entering that next level: rarely playing as a freshman, instead soaking up all the intricacies that go along with learning how to play college basketball.

That learning process her freshman year is reflected in her numbers: 7.1 minutes per game, and an average of 3.3 ppg. In DePaul's Sweet Sixteen loss to Duke, Penny played just one minute. But one statistic from that first season has followed her during her remaining time at DePaul: a 46.4 percent field goal percentage.

But she worked hard the following summer, and she took advantage of an opportunity her sophomore year.

The week after a win at Northwestern in early December, where Penny scored a then-career-high 11 points, DePaul star Keisha Hampton missed the following week of practice with an injury. Penny played 30 minutes in that next game, registering 16 points on 4-9 shooting from the field.

Hampton retained her place as a starter, and Penny joined her in that role, remaining there since.

In regards to who gets minutes at DePaul, Bruno says that it is the players that make him play them. Penny's sophomore statistics bear witness to Bruno's philosophy.

She averaged 11.4 ppg and shot 56 percent from the field (155-277). She scored 24 points and grabbed six rebounds in a loss to No. 2/2 Notre Dame. She was voted by her teammates at DePaul's Most Improved Player. She was No. 3 on her team with 48 steals.

"My sophomore year I was able to play a lot more, so just the experience of playing allowed me to take my game to another level and to gain more confidence," said Penny.

Her field goal percentage that year ranked No. 2 in the Big East.

But even quiet has its secrets, and in Penny's case that might be an open secret: playing basketball at a simple level.

"I avoid the bad shot. I just shoot when I am open. If I am not open, I am not going to try and force anything. I am always going to try and take shots that I know that I can make."

"[DePaul assistant coach Jill Pizzotti] is on the sidelines a lot of the time helping me with my shot selection. I really listen to what the coaches tell me to do."

And what started at Logansport High School, where Penny recalls having a good field goal percentage, continued on from her sophomore year at DePaul.

Last year she averaged 13.1 ppg and her 55 percent field goal percentage ranked No. 2 in the Big East and No. 12 in Division I. She scored 29 points on 12-15 shooting versus Seton Hall.

In her senior year she has eight games of 20 or more points. She leads the Big East in scoring at 24.8 ppg. She has eclipsed the 1,000 point mark. She was named Preseason First Team All-Big East. She was selected as MVP of the Chicago Maggie Dixon Classic.

DePaul's All-America selection Latasha Byears led the WNBA two consecutive years in field goal percentage, and three-time All-America pick Khara Smith holds the three, four, and five spots for single season field goal percentage at DePaul. Natasha Williams holds the top spot, shooting 62 percent (191-308) in the 2008-2009 season.

Penny's 64 percent field goal percentage this season places her in an elite group at DePaul, and also nationally, where she ranks No. 4 in the country.

Williams also holds the career field goal record at DePaul with 60 percent. Smith is No. 2 at 59 percent. Entering her senior year, Penny was No. 6 at 54 percent.

Penny, a three-time All-Big East Academic selection, wants to work in the field of sociology in Indiana after graduation. But before that happens, she will continue her successful equation of quiet play + simple basketball= putting the ball in the basket. And while fans may not hear much from her, they will continue to see plenty.

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