published Monday, October 17th, 2011

UTC guard Bell thrives on new diet

The refrigerator and cupboards in Keegan Bell's apartment probably look a little different than most in UTC Place.

His kitchen space is absent of Little Debbies, Ramen noodles and Coke-A-Cola. He has no frozen-dinners stored and can't remember the last time he grabbed a slice of pizza, swallowed a doughnut, or went out to eat with teammates.

The Mocs' point guard pantry is filled with things like almond milk, mixed salads, organic cereal and sugar-free beverages.

And he loves it.

Bell completely changed his diet after the Mocs' quarterfinal loss in the Southern Conference tournament in March.

He enters the 2011-12 season as a healthier person, a quicker point-guard, and a more confident player who can fit in better with coach John Shulman's new mantra of getting the ball into the lane via pass or dribble.

"I just feel better," Bell said. "I'm psycho. I have to have whole foods, no milk, it's almond milk and my diet is really strict.

"People look at me when I'm eating and they think I'm crazy."

Bell hasn't followed the popular South Beach Diet, but as close as possible he's followed the eating habits of his idol Steve Nash.

"I eat more fats than he does," Bell's roommate Drazen Zlovaric said. "We have that milk, salads and all kinds of vegetables and eggs. But there are no cookies. Maybe some nuts and stuff."

Bell has followed the new plan because he needs to be a step quicker than last year when driving to the basket.

"I was hungry this summer to work on my game, to get in the lane, and to do that, you have to be in shape and stronger," Bell said. "I eat basically the same thing every day and that gets boring. But I don't have the cravings for bad food anymore. If I eat bad, I feel horrible the next day."

Bell has admired Nash for years. He let his hair grow long over the last two seasons to look like Nash. Bell trimmed it this summer when Zlovaric spent a few days with Bell and his family in Hazen Green, Ala.

"Drazen came and visited and he actually does my hair," Bell said. "He makes me look like min-Drazen. My girlfriend likes it so I'll keep it."

There's another new look to Bell this season. He has been wearing black leggings with padding in the knee area during practice so far this season.

Bell said he's sporting the new leg look to prevent bruising and pain he endured last year from knee-to-knee contact he absorbed while driving the lane.

And with Shulman's emphasis on getting the ball into the paint during practice, be it by dribble or pass, the padding could save his patellas some wear and tear.

The leggings are another symbol of Bell's commitment to be fit.

about David Uchiyama...

David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...

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