After losing Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris to the NBA this offseason, the Gonzaga Bulldogs figured that they would have to lean on their backcourt of Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. a bit more this season. Bell was a bit of a question mark after breaking his foot in the NCAA Tournament last season and undergoing treatments that kept him out of full practices for much of the offseason. After the first two games, however, it’s clear that Bell is dialed in and ready to be a major contributor for the Zags in 2013-14.
Through two games this season, Bell has been on fire from beyond the three-point line connecting on a preposterous 64.7 percent (11 of 17) of his threes. Monday night against the Colorado State Rams, he set a career-best with eight three pointers, falling one short of tying the school record, while leading the team with 24 points on the night. Bell was on target whether he was setting up in the corner for a pass off penetration or creating for himself with a jab step and step back shot. CSU had no answer for him.
Mark Few needs that kind of shooting ability out of Bell this season if the Zags are going to make a run at another conference title and a deep run into the NCAA Tournament. The frontcourt was gutted when Olynyk and Harris left leaving Sam Dower and Przemek Karnowski to step up and fill their shoes. While they find their rhythm as starters down low, the Zags need their veteran backcourt to lead the way. With Pangos, David Stockton and Gerard Coleman, Few has the guards who can drive to the basket and dish it out. That leaves Bell with one job: Keep hitting threes.
If Bell can keep hitting from range consistently, it will open up the lane for Gonzaga’s bigs and dribble-drivers to get to the basket for easy scores. That inside-outside combination could be the key for the Bulldogs’ chances of repeating as WCC champions.