Lost in the furor over the most talked about inbounds play in Zags' history -- watch the replay and you'll see Butler's Roosevelt Jones push Olynyk with his left arm before stealing the ball and making the game-winner -- was the troubling stat line for Gary Bell Jr. -- 33 minutes, 0-for-1 from the field, no points, one rebound, two assists.
Since injuring his knee in the Oklahoma St. win, GB2 has seen his ppg average dip to 8.8 while now shooting a meager 40% from the field and 34% from beyond the arc. Last season, this supremely gifted two-guard hit a scorching 50% of his field goals and 48% of his three's, finishing with an average of 10.4 points a game as a frosh.
While GB2 did have 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting in the Santa Clara game, in the four other games after Okla. St, he has averaged just under 3 points a game while shooting 3-of-15 from the field and 3-of-11 from three point range. Yet his average minutes in those four games was over 28.
Tough for me to believe that the knee isn't causing him some trouble. When Bell and Pangos establish themselves as consistent offensive threats -- see the wins against Baylor, Davidson and K-State -- this team is a legitimate Final Four contender. When they fade into the woodwork as they did against Butler, we're just another program that gets a bid to the dance in March, wins one game against a low seed and makes a quiet exit.
GB2 is too good to have a single attempt at the basket in 33 minutes of a nationally televised game like he did on Saturday. This is a kid who was AP State Player of the Year at Kentridge, beating out Tony Wroten Jr. of Garfield who was All-Pac-12 last season at UW and currently suits up in the NBA for Memphis.
The emergence of Olynyk in the past month has been fantastic, but it's also coincided with the slide of our starting off-guard. While it's true that the Zags' extraordinary inside game -- accounting for 54 of our 63 points at Butler -- means fewer shots for the backcourt, Bell, Pangos, Stockton and company must establish an offensive presence for this team to advance anywhere significant in March (especially considering that you get about 3 points a game on average from the 3-spot).
Everyone on this team seems to know their role -- Hart defends and rebounds like no one in college basketball, Harris and Olynyk pile up the points and grab crazy boards and bench players like Stockton, Landry-Edi, Dower and Karnowski each play to their strengths when they see minutes. Now let's hope that Bell (and Pangos) can return to the stellar play that had people branding them as one of the best backcourts in the nation -- last year.