MINNEAPOLIS -- During her time at Minnesota, Kenisha Bell could get to the bucket at will. She would effortlessly break down defenders off the dribble, knife her way through the lane and finish through contact at the rim.
Her biggest issues arose when defenses backed off and dared her to shoot. Bell struggled to knock down open jump shots, and it has followed her to the next level as she tries to make the most of her chance to make a WNBA roster with the hometown Lynx.
After being drafted in the final round of the WNBA Draft last month, Bell, 22, is in Lynx training camp trying to prove her worth. She knows full well what that means.
"Just being able to knock a shot down," Bell said. "Because I know a lot of teams are going to sag off once they start learning my game. They are going to leave me open until I prove I can shoot. I just need to work on my shot and work on being ready to shoot."
It's been a process for Bell as she tries rebuild her jump shot on the fly.
"My form needs to change a little bit, and I need to use a little bit more of my legs," she said. "It's about me learning my shot and then getting reps at it."
Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve has spoken "at length" with Bell about how to become more efficient.
"She's adjusting to my desire for spacing and shot selection," Reeve said. "I want her to shoot the three. I know Lindsay Whalen wanted her to shoot the three more. Now, she knows it's really not optional."
"I told her, 'If you're open from three, and you don't shoot it, you're coming out,'" Reeve added. "It's not, 'If you take a three and miss it you're coming out.'" If she doesn't shoot it, she's coming out."
That was a light bulb moment for Bell.
"As soon as (Reeve) told me that, and gave me the green light to shoot, and I knew that's what she wanted me to do, that helped a lot," she said. "I don't want them to have to constantly remind me about it; I want them to be able to tell me something one time and I get it right away."
Besides that, Bell has been trying to strike a balance between moving quickly and slowing down.
"Sometimes I move too fast for myself," she said. "I'm learning that at this level, it's about being smart. I just need to learn my pace and slow it down when I need to."
If Bell can learn to knock down an open jump shot with regularity, she could have an inside track at making the team because of the other things she already does well. "She's a pro athletically," Reeve said.
"She is somebody that gets to places in a hurry," the coach added. "She could screw up a defensive assignment and catch up and fix her error right away. Not many players can do that."
That's always been a calling card for Bell, going all the way back to her days at Bloomington Kennedy High School.
"I've always depended on my defense to get me going in transition with pushing the ball and pushing the pace," Bell said. "Whether it's stops, steals or deflections, I've always been the type of player where that stuff is important for my game."
As much as she has learned during training camp, Bell is looking forward to Friday's preseason game against the Washington Mystics. It's one thing to pick up on things in practice and another to implement those things in an actual game.
"She's been able to show a little bit of everything," Reeve said. "She's somebody that when she's out there, I feel good. Now the bottom line is she has to play."