Thursday, January 30, 2014

What's behind James Bell's Great Leap Forward?

In his first three seasons at Villanova, senior swing man James Bell was generally one of the best defenders on the team, but his scoring was inconsistent. Every offseason since he has been here, there have been articles and tweets (usually from Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports) about how much he had improved and how he was going to have a breakout year. When the same thing happened this past offseason, I had pretty much the same reaction, one of serious skepticism, as Bell had never scored more than 292 points in a season, and had a tendency to disappear for a while after he would have what seemed to be a breakout game.

This season, he has somehow put it together, and has already set a career high in points, and is on pace to set career highs in just about every other trackable stat.

So what is behind this? Well, to start, Bell has gone from a below average shooter inside of the arc to someone who is shooting over 50% from two point range, as well as the fact that he has already set career highs in free throws attempted and free throws made. Surprisingly, he is not shooting much better from three point range than his career averages, but he is taking them in greater volumes than ever. So the increase in two point field goal percentage, the increased volume of shots, and the greater frequency of his getting to the line has propelled him to where he is now, one of the greatest season to season improvements in school history.

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