Gary Bell Jr. is healing and hopeful.
The junior guard wants to play in Gonzaga’s two home games this week, which begins with San Diego’s visit Thursday, but it’s not up to him or the coaching staff. The decision will be made by a doctor. Bell, who broke the fourth metacarpal bone in his right (shooting) hand against Santa Clara on Dec. 28, has weekly X-rays and his next appointment is today.
“I’m definitely close,” Bell said. “Hopefully I’ll play this week, but I’m still not sure.”
He’s been sidelined roughly 3 1/2 weeks. At the time of the injury, he was told he’d probably miss 4-6 weeks. Bell has been wearing a smaller brace, which allows him to shoot and dribble.
Bell hasn’t been cleared to practice. He’s able to condition and he’s done additional work with strength and conditioning coach Travis Knight as well as shooting drills while the rest of the team practices.
San Diego features veteran guards Johnny Dee and Christopher Anderson. BYU, Gonzaga’s opponent Saturday, has a strong guard line with Tyler Haws, Matt Carlino and Kyle Collinsworth.
“You have to be disciplined chasing guys around and getting through screens and that’s Gary’s forte,” coach Mark Few said. “He does a great job being detailed and that’s still an area of growth with a lot of the other guys.”
Bell averages 12.7 points, third on the team.
He’s shooting 51 percent from the field, including 47.6 percent beyond the 3-point arc.
Several Bulldogs gathered to watch the NFL conference championship games Sunday. Rooting interests varied, which made for an interesting afternoon.
“Stocks (David Stockton) is a big Broncos guy. Me and Sam (Dower Jr.) were going for the 49ers,” said wing Kyle Dranginis, who grew up in Nampa, Idaho. “Gary (Bell) and Rem (Bakamus) are Seahawks guys. They were rubbing it in big time after the game.”
Seattle, which edged San Francisco, will face Denver in the Super Bowl.
“That’s my squad,” Stockton said of the Broncos. “That’s who played on TV (when his father, John, was with the Jazz and the family lived in Utah) and some of the Broncos would see the Jazz doctors so there was some familiarity.”
Dranginis said his mom and dad are from Los Angeles and “I grew up watching all the L.A. teams.” He added he’s “not pulling for the Broncos as much as anybody please just beat the Seahawks.”
Bell likes Seattle’s chances against Peyton Manning and the Broncos because of a stout defense.
“The whole house was rooting against Seattle, except me and Rem,” he said. “I enjoyed (the outcome) a lot.”
Home before home
Gonzaga senior forward Drew Barham is coming off a big week and several big ones are approaching on the schedule. Barham’s parents will make the trip from Memphis, Tenn., this week to see their first games in the McCarthey Athletic Center.
In two weeks, Barham will return to his hometown when the Bulldogs face Memphis as part of ESPN’s College Game Day.
“My parents haven’t experienced the Kennel yet, they’re used to Memphis’ arena,” Barham said. “I told them the student section was way crazier here.”
Barham had 24 points, 10 rebounds and five steals in two road wins last week.