The Santa Clara Bruins took on the Andrew Hill Falcons in a non-league game Tuesday night. Led by star junior captain Annie Liu, the Bruins hung tough for all four quarters. Santa Clara would fall to the Falcons by a final of 54-49, and the scores were close at the end of the first three quarters. The game was tied 15-15 after one quarter, 28-25 at halftime and 39-35 after three quarters.
Playing a full tough 32 minutes of basketball is a good sign for the young rebuilding squad. Liu, along with her Head Coach Deedee Kiyota, are trying to lead a team without a single senior on the roster.
“We’re getting better, we are still young, we are pretty much a new team, don’t have a lot of chemistry yet,” noted coach Kiyota. “It’s a different feeling because I’ve never had a team with no seniors in all my years of coaching. As young as we are with seven sophomores, we are trying to find out who we are, find our identity and go from there.”
With seven sophomores and only three juniors on the squad, does that leave a lot of pressure on Liu to be the star player?
“I haven’t had a conversation with her [about that] yet,” responded coach Kiyota when asked if Liu might feel the burden to be great every game. “I know that she feels that pressure because she is our leader and she is the one with the most experience being a freshman on varsity. She’s our veteran. The girls look to her as the team leader and respect her, I think she is a great leader. She knows her limits and knows what she has to do for us.”
Against the Falcons not only did Liu drain a handful of threes, one of which was from Steph Curry land, multiple feet behind the line, she also had a brilliant pass into the paint to teammate Brianna Kendall. To her credit, Liu sounds focused on playing her game and not letting the potential weight of being a captain change her mindset.
“Playing wise, I feel like I’m still playing the way I’ve always played, the way I was taught and the way I want to play,” remarked Liu. “Off the court, I feel a lot more engaged, that I have a voice and I can help improve different plays, put my input out there for different things to help the team improve.”
Not only is this already Liu’s third year on varsity, but the junior also had the benefit of playing with her older sister Bonnie, who graduated last school year.
“My sister was a really good team captain and a terrific role model. I really miss playing with her,” added Liu. “A lot of the stuff that she does, the team talks after the game, I’m trying to carry that on for this team.”
Liu and the Bruins will next hit the court in search of their first win on Thursday, Dec. 5 when they travel to Fremont to take on the Irvington Vikings.