Bell happy to have his shot at Nevada | NevadaAppeal.com

Bell happy to have his shot at Nevada

RENO – Chad Bell is like a kid turned loose in a candy store.

Having spent a year of just practicing after transferring from New Mexico University, the 7-foot, 270-pound Bell finally gets to play in games, and he’s loving it.

Bell scored eight points on 3-for-5 shooting from the floor in Nevada’s win over Dominican on Nov. 4, and he’s hoping to contribute just as much when Nevada hosts Seattle Pacific in an exhibition game Saturday at 8:05 p.m. at Lawlor Events Center.

“It felt great to be out there for the first time,” Bell said before Wednesday’s practice. “I was a little rusty at first, but as the game went on I thought I got better and better.”

So did first-year head coach Mark Fox.

“I thought he played a little better than I thought after sitting out a year,” Fox said. “He did a good job of finishing around the basket. He’s somebody that can play a big role on this team. He just needs to get comfortable playing again.”

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Fox said he wants Bell to give the Wolf Pack some defense, rebounding, leadership and a little bit of scoring. And the junior center said he’s capable of doing that.

“I’m better from in the paint than I used to be,” Bell said. “I’m a better finisher underneath. I worked real hard with coach Fox on finishing my shots. I’m a lot stronger than I used to be.

“I’m not going to go out there and score 20 points every night. I think I can score in double figures, though.”

Bell’s offense was almost non-existent at New Mexico. He averaged 3.1 points and 2.1 rebounds in 13 starts as a freshman under Fran Fraschilla. After Fraschilla left, Bell’s numbers dropped to 1.5 and 1.6, respectively.

“The system wasn’t conducive to him putting up good numbers,” Fox said. “He signed and played in one system and then played in another system the next season. He’s going to be in our rotation.”

Bell was unhappy and obtained his release. He sought out then-head coach Trent Johnson, who recruited him out of high school.

“I felt like I didn’t fit into the (new) system,” Bell said. “Coach Johnson had recruited me. I came in for a visit and liked it.”

Bell came in last fall and worked everyday against big men Kevinn Pinkney, Sean Paul and Nick Fazekas.

“It was very tough last year (not playing), but at the same time I was happy with what the team did last year,” he said. “They really opened some eyes around the country.”

Bell is a different player now. He entered New Mexico weighing around 220, could jump well and run the floor. He now weighs 270 and is more of a true center. He won’t get moved around, and if teams have big, physical centers expect to see him get plenty of minutes.

“I ate a lot of protein shakes, did a lot of eating and I lived in the weight room,” Bell said. “I can’t jump as well as I used to. I can run the floor pretty much the same.

“The first two years I got pushed around a lot. There were a lot of big centers in the Mountain West.”

Now, it’s Bell’s turn to do some shoving underneath.

• Nevada’s women’s team, fresh off an exhibition win over the Bay Area Pro-Am squad last Saturday, hosts Chico State Saturday at 6 p.m. at Lawlor Events Center.

Chico State, a Division II school, is coming off a 76-66 victory over Pacific on Nov. 5 in Stockton, Calif.

Senior April Bankston scored 21 points last weekend in her season debut and Talisa Anderson scored 16. Amber Young went scoreless, but pulled down 11 rebounds in 17 minutes.

The Wildcats are led by true freshman Amber Simmons, who scored 19 points and grabbed 14 rebounds against Pacific. Transfer Lauren Himmelspach, a transfer from the University of Portland, had 12 points and four steals. Audriana Spencer, Haley Ford and point guard Kim Abts are all capable scorers.

Darrell Moody can be reached at dmoody@nevadaappeal.com, or by calling (775) 881-1281