Love ponders possibility of replacing Bell if point guard extends absence
Plymouth Raiders coach Gavin Love says he will have to sign a new starting point-guard – if Jeremy Bell's absence continues.
Bell, 29, remains at home in Arkansas, the USA, for a third week for "personal" reasons and mystery still surrounds precisely what they are.
Plymouth coach Gavin Love said Bell's reasons concern his personal life and not basketball, ruling out a rift between the player, who joined Raiders in October 2011, and club or coach.
Love, whose team visit Glasgow Rocks in the BBL Championship tomorrow (5pm), said: "Myself and Jeremy have a great relationship and have had for a year and a half now.
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"Myself, Jeremy and the club have always been on good terms. Jeremy's a good guy.
"He hasn't got an injury or health problem. He's fine."
Love added: "We're really not sure when Jeremy's going to be back. He's home for personal reasons. We'll let people know when we know more."
Following tomorrow's contest in Scotland, Raiders have 13 days off before Manchester Giants visit the Pavilions on January 19. That gives Love a window to recruit someone, if he chooses.
The alternative, however unpalatable, is arguably allowing Bell to become bigger than the club and Raiders' 2012-13 campaign to potentially go up in smoke without Bell running their offence.
Bell is Raiders' second leading scorer and leader in assists, averaging 19.4 and 3.6 per game respectively this season. His form has also dipped since starting 2012-13 explosively, underlining how all might not be well in Bell's personal life.
Love said: "It's a possibility we could sign someone else and yes, it will come to a point when we have to.
"There has to be. But it's not something we want to do."
Love, whose team are now out of both the BBL's regular season knock-out competitions, said: "We've got a two-week window coming up and it's going to be an important two weeks for us.
"It's disappointing we're not still in either the BBL Cup or Trophy, after going through to the finals last season.
"But what's really important is we come together in these two weeks off and finish this season strongly."
When it rains it pours for Raiders and Love, who today is set to discover if starting shooting-guard Michael Ojo fractured an eye socket in last Friday's 90-77 defeat at Worcester Wolves in the BBL Trophy first round.
Ojo is leading Raiders in scoring and three-point and free-throw shooting percentage this campaign, leading the league in the last two categories. Together, Bell and Ojo are averaging 40.5 points per game this season.
"We think Michael has got a fractured eye socket from the Worcester game last weekend," said Love. "It's pretty serious. Michael's still in a lot of pain. We don't know how long Michael's going to be out."
Worst-case scenarios for fractured eye sockets – as nasty as they sound – only rule players out for weeks rather than months.
Love said: "Michael almost certainly won't play this weekend and Jeremy won't play this weekend, so that's obviously our two top scorers and arguably our two go-to guys.
"You're taking 40 points out of our offence, which obviously hurts us. It's going to be really difficult for us, but at the same time we have to go there confident and change our game-plan."
Minus Bell and Ojo, Raiders will take a six-strong core rotation to Rocks supported by squad players Tristan Hall and Jay Marriott.
Rocks have hit some form and won three of their last four contests, including last Sunday's 95-78 home win over Cheshire Phoenix.