Arizona State Week: Profiling Jordan BachynskiPosted by AMurawa on June 12th, 2012
Just over two years ago, Jordan Bachyski arrived on the Arizona State campus, a Calgary native who had been away from the game of basketball for three seasons. After an ankle injury had ruined his senior season of high school, he had spent the next two years fulfilling an LDS mission in Miami. His new head coaching staff had never even seen their new recruit play in person, but the videotape and some key numbers (mostly the 7’2” height and 7’4” wingspan) convinced Herb Sendek and company that the lefty would be worth taking a gamble on.
But, after three seasons away from the game and the weight room, Bachynski needed to not only get back his feel for the game, but also be able to handle the rigors of competing against Pac-12-caliber big men. It took a year and a half, but in January of last year on a road trip to Utah, something began to click. He scored 10 points, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked four shots in just 19 minutes, a performance that was roundly ignored due to the fact that his Sun Devils lost to the lowly Utes by 21 points. But when he came back the following week with 20 points and 15 boards against the Washington schools, and then poured in 20 against Stanford a week later, it was clear a trend was forming. “I think it just took some time for Jordan, having not played basketball for three full years,” said head coach Herb Sendek. “But once we hit about mid-January last season, he really came on for us, as we expected he would.”
The key now is for Bachynski to build on his strong 13-game stretch at the end of last season where he began to show signs of putting together all of his considerable skills in the service of a complete basketball game. He showed the ability to score in the paint, to knock down mid-range jumpers, to rebound amongst the bruisers, and to change the game with his shotblocking ability. And, perhaps most impressive of all for a guy who was a 44% free throw shooter up until that point, he knocked down his shots from the charity stripe. “I feel like I had been hitting my free throws in practice prior to that point,” said Bachynski last week, “but my problem was hitting those shots in a game when I was tired or too excited.” Over the last month and a half of the season, he hit 33 of his final 47 attempts, good for just a hair over 70%, a rate which could help turn Bachynski into an player of all-conference caliber. “I just need to continue to work hard and focus. I know I can be a good free throw shooter,” he said.
His two years on the Sun Devil roster have not exactly been the pinnacle of ASU basketball, with a 22-40 record to show for his career, but he sees a silver lining to those struggles. “In any situation in life, you can find positives,” he said. “Just being able for me and my teammates to earn game experience has been a positive. And we see that we’ve got to work harder in order to have the success we want.” But, his breakthrough at the end of last season, combined with the team’s other returnees and some promising newcomers gives him a sense that brighter days are right around the corner. “Our bigs have been working really hard, Carrick (Felix) has stepped up in a big way, Jonathan (Gilling) is looking really good, and we’ve got all these new guys ready to go. I’m really excited for this year.”
Another reason for excitement in the Bachynski family is the prospect of not just Jordan but also little brother Dallin playing in the Pac-12. Dallin got some run at Southern Utah in 2009-10, averaging 3.6 points and 2.6 rebounds in just over 10 minutes per game as a freshman before going on an LDS mission of his own. But now, two years and a transfer later, Dallin will be wearing a Runnin’ Ute uniform in Utah this season. When asked to critique his brother’s game, Jordan predicted an All-Pac-12 future for his brother, talking about how Dallin has a perimeter jumpshot that he is jealous of. And, given the sibling rivalry that started with playing basketball in the driveway many years ago and has steadily progressed even to competitions to see who could eat the most when Dallin visited his brother at ASU last year, Jordan is already looking forward to the first ASU/Utah matchup this year. “My parents may not necessarily be looking forward to it, not wanting to choose sides and all, but that should be a fun one,” he said. While that Arizona State/Utah matchup might not be one that jumps out right away at most fans, the prospect of seeing two seven-foot brothers battling it out could make it a considerably more interesting game to watch.