Kelsey Bone Roots For Her Aggies In The Maggie Dixon Classic!
New York Liberty Center and last season’s WNBA first team All-Rookie selection Kelsey Bone checks in with Liberty fans from Turkey to dish on overseas ball, improvements to her game, goals for the upcoming season and all you need to know about Texas A&M women’s basketball. The (R/V/#24) Texas A&M Aggies travel to New York City to play St. John’s Red Storm followed by a match up of (#1/#1) UConn vs. # (#21/20) Cal on Sunday, December 22nd in the Maggie Dixon Classic at Madison Square Garden.
What stands out to you about your time at Texas A&M?
The thing that stands out is the tradition. Every school has their own quirks that make them different. Each school has traditions that become a part of the culture. Growing up in Texas I would see the traditions being played out at A&M and wonder, “what are they doing?” Now to be a part of the culture, to go to a football game with tens of thousands of people singing the same school song, it gives you goose bumps. Seniors at the school get their “Aggie Ring” so you wear your ring with pride. There are no cheerleaders; students do all the yelling and cheering. It really can’t be explained you just have to see it yourself and be a part of it.
What is Texas A&M head coach Gary Blair’s personality like?
I’ve known coach Blair since I was 12. He’s different. He’s an old school southern gentleman. He doesn’t get flustered, he keeps the same southern drawl and demeanor always. He doesn’t have to yell, scream or shout to demand our excellence… but at the same time he doesn’t try to be our best friend either. You know, to see him recently inducted to the Women’s Basketball Hall Of Fame, it really couldn’t have happened to a better guy.
After winning the 2011 national championship coach Blair did a dance called the “Dougie” on live national TV, did the team prepared him for his big dancing moment?
(Laughs) Our school president did it at midnight madness and everybody loved it, they even made t-shirts… so it was only right that coach Blair did it after we won the chip. (Laughs) He’s still doing it! We tried to tell him coach it’s over and show him some new dances, but he is the type when he finds something that works for him he stays with it!
How much did you keep in touch with coach Blair during your rookie season with the Liberty?
Coach and I talked every now and then during my rookie season. My mom was on campus at Texas A&M a lot so he would send me messages through my mom. We texted after the season too. It was one of the first things I did at the end of the WNBA season, go back home and see him. We talked for a while. It means a lot just to have a guy like that in my corner. He’s my guy.
You were a member of the team but had to sit out due to transfer rules during the Aggies’ run to a National Championship in 2011. What do you remember most clearly about winning a championship?
I didn’t play but I practiced with the team all that season. I will always remember how hard we worked as a team over the course of the whole year. When the NCAA tournament bracket came out and we found out we’d be in Baylor’s bracket we knew that not too many people believed in us. Baylor had already beaten us three times that season. After we beat them and got to the Final Four we knew it was our time. To be a part of that- to see how hard we had to work just to grow… we went through so much as a team. It was a very humbling experience.
Texas A&M will play St. John’s University on Sunday, December 22nd in the Maggie Dixon Classic at Madison Square Garden. What can fans attending expect from a Texas A&M women’s basketball team?
Texas A&M is built on defense. I remember my first chance to check Texas A&M out was at a practice when I was 13 or so. I remember hearing coach Blair say, “no longer will we be the cellar dwellers of the Big 12”. To hear his proclamation and see his vision grow is special. This program was built on defense, defense, and more defense. We wear teams down. We want things done right. Our school is about fight and so is our basketball program. When you play Texas A&M it’s going to be a fight; it wont’ be easy.
Tell us about this year’s team; who should fans watch out for?
Last season we had seven freshmen and all those young players are still there with an added year of experience. Courtney Walker is a player to watch for. I’ve never played with someone so young that gets the game quite like her. She’s a two guard that can play some three. She’s just a worker. She’s the epitome of everything Texas A&M is about. She’s a hard-nosed gritty guard who will play with 100% effort on both ends of the floor.
How do you feel about the fact that the players on this year’s Texas A&M team will play at The Garden before you?
It’s so funny, man! I’m like: I play in New York and was here a whole season, and they’ll get in first! (Laughs) I’ll have to put a call in and get notes on the lighting, the rims, and how the ball falls there. But they only get one game, I get a whole season; I’m the lucky one!
How is overseas basketball in Turkey treating you? Which American players have you run into?
I play for Galatsaray and I’ve already played against Delisha Milton-Jones and Cappie Pondexter. There are great American players on every Turkish team. I get the chance to compete at the highest level overseas against the best players in the world and play in the Euro-League. Our team is doing well; we’re undefeated in the Turkish League with only one loss overall. Americans Shavonte Zellous and Sancho Lyttle are on my team. We actually play Cappie’s team, “Fenerbahce” on Christmas day; our teams are always fighting for supremacy in Turkey.
How is it playing for Galatsaray? Do they depend heavily on you?
I play with one of the greatest Turkish post players to play in Turkey. It’s not too much pressure on my shoulders; it’s more about teamwork. We don’t have a star; we all have roles and do our job.
What did Liberty head coach Bill Laimbeer ask you to work on during the offseason?
Coach Laimbeer challenged me to develop a 16-foot jump shot and knock that shot down with more consistency. He wants me to be comfortable on both sides of the basket and not have to run plays in order to finish on my right side. And I want to get more comfortable at the free throw line- those are free points our team will need and that improvement will add confidence for me to attack.
How has your adjustment to overseas life been with language, food, touring?
Luckily for me all of my teammates speak English. There is no language barrier. My Turkish teammates are teaching me a few words here and there. I can say hello, good morning, and basic words to navigate outside with. The food is fine! I’m in a great country in Turkey. I’m in Istanbul- I’m not living up under a rock and depressed out here. I’m able to get out and enjoy where I am. They have a really nice hotel out here called the Titanium Hotel that I love to enjoy a spa day at.
What is the first thing you cannot wait to do when you get back to the United States?
Number one for me is getting back to the Liberty. We had so many expectations last season and so many things that happened. It’s good to get that first year done and move on from the tough season. We definitely appreciated Newark but we can’t wait to get back to The Garden. Liberty fans tweet me all the time and that means a lot to me. I can’t wait to get this season under the way and get back to Madison Square Garden.
What are your goals for this upcoming season?
That we come in and bring excitement to the city. We’ve got to produce. Anything short of a playoff berth is a problem. Of course, we have to crawl before we walk! We have to draft good talent, work hard and we have to fight. We didn’t always fight last season. That’s the first step. Goal number one is getting everyone on the same page and everything else will fall into order.CLICK HERE for a Special Message from Kelsey!
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