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Bone has fortitude, grammar among the best of them

By Mike DiMauro

Publication: The Day

Published June 25. 2014 4:00AM
Fred Beckham/AP Photo
Kelsey Bone of the Connecticut Sun, right, has brought a certain "fiber" to the post that the team has missed in the past, according to coach Anne Donovan.

Mohegan - It was during a recent interview that Kelsey Bone, the promising young center with the Connecticut Sun, dropped the word "dichotomy" on a pair of reporters.

The writers, who might have considered weeping tears of joy over an athlete who ventures into multisyllabic words, instead called for a mock 30-second timeout.

"Dichotomy?"

Bone giggled.

"My mom used to be an English teacher," Bone said.

How fitting, then, that as Bone's prose continues to do the family proud, she picked the perfect word to illustrate the improvement - note that word, too - this season over last for the Sun at the center position.

Dichotomy: the division into two mutually exclusive, opposed, or contradictory groups. Indeed. Bone has few clones within the WNBA, the least of which is the departed Tina Charles.

"Bone is a presence that we really lacked last year inside," Sun coach Anne Donovan, who knows her way around the post position, said Tuesday after practice. "Tina is a great, big post player, but not necessarily a banger. Going into the offseason, even when we thought we had Tina, we were always looking at who's going to guard (Atlanta's Erika) DeSouza and who's going to guard (Chicago's Sylvia) Fowles. And so we were able to accomplish that in the trade."

Perhaps the burgeoning stat geekery of sports, the dweebs who believe there is a corresponding compound fraction for every breath you take, will crunch pure numbers and conclude that Bone isn't in the same stratosphere as Charles. Look at the numbers this year: Bone averages nine points and four rebounds. Charles is at 16 and nine.

Notez bien: Basketball is about more than offense. And anyone who watched Charles here knew she'd occasionally leak on to the perimeter and become a jump shooter. Didn't want the contact. And absorbing contact, which doesn't appear on any statistical line, speaks to Bone's efficacy. A banger, as Donovan said. Jim Calhoun used to call it "fiber." This is a bona fide, back-to-the-basket, embrace-the-contact, I'm-tougher-than-you center who does her work as if tethered to the rim.

"I want the ball on the block," Bone said.

"It's hard to find post players who don't mind banging," Donovan said. "My own 6-8 self, I can say that. Bone doesn't shy away. Our big practice player Corsley (Edwards, a former great at Central Connecticut) is 6-8 and two of her. And she goes in every day with the intent to shut him down or score against him.

"It's like a New York game or the Detroit of old," Donovan said. "They look to get in your head with every bruise they lay. It doesn't happen that way for her. Then there's the crafty side with DeSouza and Fowles, who have more than physicality. She's able to play that game, too. And she's just a kid who's going to get better."

Another difference: Bone's personality has become infectious, right there with Chiney Ogwumike, the happiest person in America. Several Sun players participated Tuesday in "Chillen-4-Charity," a fundraiser to benefit the Kay Yow Fund. They sat in chairs and got buckets of ice water dumped over the heads. Bone assumed the responsibility of spokesperson for the corresponding video. It required one take.

But then, remember the English teacher thing.

"We always had to have subject-verb agreement in my house," Bone said. "I am totally an English/history reader. It was always instilled in us. We almost had to like reading the dictionary. I've been practicing SAT words since I was about eight."

What a trade. Bone, Alyssa Thomas and the Liberty's first pick next season - potentially in the lottery. Now the Sun have a young, strong, vibrant post player who can also quote from Warriner's English Grammar and Composition and actually wants to be here.

Who knew?

"I've always been the friend who corrects other friends when they speak," Bone said. "Even when I text, I use commas, periods and exclamation points. My friends are always like, 'You've just got to stop.' If my brother, who is 12, misspells a word and uses slang, all my family will tell him, 'wait a minute. Spell these words out."

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.

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