Kelsey Bone Rookie Report

July 24, 2013 -- New York Liberty rookie Kelsey Bone is just getting started in the WNBA, but she is quickly learning that she belongs. Averaging 6.6 points and 5.9 rebounds per game, Bone has been one of the top rookie performers in the league this season. Her teammates have noticed, including superstar guard Cappie Pondexter.

"She has an incredible upside, a great future ahead of her," said Pondexter. "She works hard. She's going to be a force, she really is."

Bone was the 5th pick in the 2013 WNBA Draft out of Texas A&M. Over the course of her first two months in New York, the rookie forward has continually added facets to her game. There are still things that Bone needs to work on, but that is not unusual for a rookie, and she has worked hard to continually develop through the inevitable rookie struggles.

"She's done well," said Coach Bill Laimbeer, "Like with all rookies you see some missed defensive assignments, not setting screens for her players. But overall she's progressing very, very well."

Laimbeer has been tough on Bone, but she prefers it that way. She understands that he has won at every level, and that there is immeasurable value in learning from someone of his caliber.

"He's blunt, he never bites his tongue for anything, and he's very, very demanding," said Bone. It's been a really good experience for me."

Bone enjoys being pushed by Laimbeer, knowing that no matter the challenge, she'll take it on. This is an attitude inspired by a superstar outside the sport of basketball. At Texas A&M, Bone studied Communications. The motivation to do so came from years of idolizing Good Morning America co-host Robin Roberts.

"To see all that she's been through, to see the perseverance, to see the fight that she has," said Bone of the twice-cancer-stricken Roberts, "She's sick, and she comes back. She's sick again, and she comes back again. When most people would just say, ‘Forget it, I'm done,' and just shut the world out and go into seclusion, she just keeps fighting and keeps letting people in. It's what helps me to keep pushing myself, she's a phenomenal woman."

Though her first love is basketball, Bone has long aspired to follow in Roberts' footsteps and one day host Good Morning America. The charismatic Houston, Texas native hosted a women's basketball show while at Texas A&M, and currently blogs about her experiences as a rookie in the WNBA. She has a bright future in media, but for now she is focused on improving her game.

"Right now I'm trying to find a little more aggression," replied Bone, when asked what she needs to improve. "As a rookie not really knowing everything yet, I tend to kind of lie back at times and defer. And I think just from a basketball standpoint, understanding that at this level basketball has no age, and just going out and being aggressive and finding the way to do that night in and night out."

Kelsey Bone Feature
Part of the reason she has deferred is the presence of multiple highly respected veterans. New York is a team full of noted winners, even if the team hasn't enjoyed great success early on in 2013. But, with these losses, come learning experiences, and Bone's teammates have made sure she understands this, especially Pondexter.

"Even when we've been down in games, she says these are lessons," Bone says of her superstar teammate, "And that in every situation we have to find a way to learn from it."

"Cappie is just a fighter," said Bone of the 2013 WNBA All-Star. "She's been really big for the team through this transitional period, just understanding what's going on and understanding that there's still and chance and that there's still some fight left."

The transitional period has been tough for the Liberty squad. Laimbeer has brought in a completely new system for the women to learn, and they are still adjusting. For a rookie in this situation, the smartest thing to do is find efficient ways to contribute. Scoring can come and go as a rookie, so Kelsey has turned much of her attention to rebounding.

"Whether my shot is going or not, I know that I can always rebound," said Bone. "It carries over to the rest my game; I can get easy buckets off the rebounds and open up the floor for my teammates."

Off the court, Bone is still adjusting to life as a professional athlete. A woman of habit, Bone got used to her daily schedule at Texas A&M. Class, study hall, practice, and workouts became a set routine for her, but that period of her life is now finished.

"In the league you're an adult now. You have a job. You go to practice and then you might have the rest of your day to yourself. So the biggest adjustment is not having a true routine anymore, not having my days set when I wake up in the morning."

Kelsey Bone Feature
The adjustment has been made easier thanks to those many veterans on the team. Kelsey credits WNBA legend Katie Smith as an invaluable resource in learning what it means to be a true professional. Smith, the second leading scorer in WNBA history, is in her 14th and final season in the WNBA.

"Every day she just brings it," admired Bone, "I'm 21 years old and she's 39, and she's waking up every morning and coming to practice and absolutely getting after it."

"I only hope I can play half the years that she's played in the league," said Bone. "She's constantly in the community helping out. She just does it all; she's the perfect vet. So I'm just excited that in my rookie season that I have a chance to play with and learn from her."

Smith has been impressed with Kelsey's development as well. She has praised the rookie's eagerness to learn, noting her ability to continually add new facets to her game as the season has progressed.

"She's got a great skill set, she can shoot the ball from 15 feet, she's got power to her, and she attacks the boards," said Smith. "So she has a lot of things to work with, she's just continuing to get smarter learning how to function in the league."

For now, Bone will continue to develop as a cornerstone of the Liberty franchise. Despite some early hardships at times, everyone in the organization can see her potential.

"She has an incredible upside, a great future ahead of her," said Pondexter. "She works hard. She's going to be a force, she really is."

The Liberty currently sit at 6-10 as the All-Star Break approaches. There have been some bumps in the road early in Laimbeer's tenure, but the potential for success is evident. According to Bone, it's all about developing together.

"We really have to be more consistent. We have to buy in a little more and understand the system. We need to get everybody on the same page," said Bone. We have a chance to get hot coming out of All-Star Break. And so we've got to just believe that we can still do it, and then do it. I think we're starting to realize that we have some pieces and we do have some things that we can do."

The Liberty take on the Silver Stars Thursday night in San Antonio. This is the last night of games before the All Star Break. Tune in on WNBA Live Access, and be sure to catch the Boost Mobile 2013 WNBA All Star Game Saturday, July 27 at 3:30 on ABC.

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