Hoop seniors balance intensity with humo

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    By CHAD HOOPE

    There are three more home games to watch BYU’s senior starting tandem of a tenacious, in-your-face defensive point guard and an undersized, rip-the-ball-off-the-glass rebounding power forward. No, not Randy Reid and Kenneth Roberts, but BYU’s women basketball players, Cindy Pierce and Kim Anderson.

    Pierce, a native of Hammonton, N.J., majoring in special education, is a defensive sparkplug for the team on the court.

    “She is a down-dirty, get-after-it player,” head coach Soni Adams said. Despite being small she always wants to guard the other teams’ best players and does a good job of it, Adams said.

    “She gets players upset. She is a crowd pleaser on defense, people always tell me how much they love to watch Cindy play defense.”

    The highlight of Pierce’s career happened last week against Colorado State. And not surprisingly, the play was a defensive effort.

    “I blocked Teresa James’ shot!” Pierce said.

    A block isn’t always impressive but when a 5-3 guard blocks the shot of a 6-3 center, celebration is in order.

    “She (James) shot the ball and I jumped up and I hit it, then I grabbed the ball,” Pierce said.

    Despite a serious demeanor during games, Pierce’s teammates say she can break out in a song and dance at anytime.

    “Cindy has quite a personality. She gets in these moods every once in a while and just starts dancing,” said fellow senior Behka Stafford.

    Pierce is very intense on the court, so some accidents can lead to laughter.

    “During the shoot-around against Colorado State, Cindy was driving through the key mad dog with her head down.,” assistant coach Marlyn Harmer said. “When she got to the basket she looked for someone to pass to but no one was there, so she shot the ball. It bounced off the bottom of the rim, hit her in the head and knocked her to the floor. The team burst out in laughter and that was the end of the practice.”

    Pierce has one regret about her career at BYU, “I never got to cut down the nets.” But she has cherished her experience here.

    Anderson, nicknamed with her maiden name Henry, is from Orem, majoring in health education, impresses the team and the crowd with her ferocious rebounding and her moves under the basket.

    “When Henry rebounds, she rips the ball down and she is not giving it up to anyone,” Adams said.

    Rebounding is Anderson’s favorite part of the game.

    “I love to rebound — it is because of my height. I’m not really that big for my position, so I like to get up and get the ball,” Anderson said.

    And her teammates appreciate it when she goes after the ball.

    “She gets up in the air, if she were 6-3, she would be dunking,” Pierce said.

    “My favorite thing about Henry is when she plays against somebody really tall, and she does all her moves and fakes and gets them into the air and goes around them,” said Stafford.

    Egged on by Ken Roberts, Anderson has been practicing three-pointers this year, and sank one against New Mexico.

    “She is 100 percent from the three-point line,” Pierce exclaimed, “She is 1 for 1. She is our best shooter!”

    Anderson’s shooting has been a source of success for her, but once this season, it caused her embarrassment.

    “I shot an air-ball free throw in the San Diego State game. It was very embarrassing to me and hilarious to the team. I had never shot an air ball through junior high, high school and all of college, until my senior year.” Pierce claimed the shot was three feet short and right.

    The team doesn’t mind letting embarrassing moments happen. No one said anything to Anderson as she walked into a men’s restroom in a Maine airport earlier this season.

    Besides Pierce and Anderson the team gets the support of three other seniors.

    Behka Stafford, a senior from Auburn, Wash., majoring in physical education, has been injured most of the year. Lately she has contributed to the team whenever she plays.

    “She has the fastest hands on the team,” Adams said. “She anticipates like Larry Bird.”

    Despite a difficult season, Stafford has been very successful at BYU setting records in three-point shooting.

    Anderson is impressed with Stafford’s effort on the court with her injuries.

    “When Behka goes in hurt to play, that is total guts and it is awesome.”

    Tiani Shoemaker, a senior form Berthoud, Colo., majoring in fashion merchandising, provides the team with good effort and heart off the bench. Adams said Shoemaker is always positive. Shoemaker was hampered by injuries last season, so when the team was hit with the injury bug this season, she explained that all of her past injuries were just being spread around.

    Niera Verbanac, a senior from Croatia, majoring in psychology, has not been able to play most of the season because of injuries. She still looks for ways to contribute to the team by helping to coach the players.

    The seniors will lead the team against Fresno State tonight in the Marriott Center at 7 p.m

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