As the regular season winds down and teams start preparing for the conference tournament, teams always look to their leadership.
For ASU, part of that leadership structure is senior center Jordan Bachynski. Bachynski is the prototype leader; he’s been around the program for four years, he’s a little older than most of his teammates, he is respected within the conference and recognized nationally.
Lately, though, Jordan Bachynski has been struggling on offense. He’s also been prone to getting into early foul trouble. This recent trend is causing some problems for the Sun Devils.
Make no mistake, Bachynski is making valuable contributions to his team’s efforts. He usually finishes the game with a healthy 12-14 points, 10 rebounds and 4-5 blocks. That’s a good night. However, in the last 7 games, he is struggling to finish shots around the basket. For whatever reason, he is lacking confidence while shooting those 6 foot baby hook shots and some of his up and under moves. Additionally, he is struggling a little bit from the line.
It’s not unusual for “big men” to be below average free throw shooters. But Bachynski has shown to be better than most. His ability to knock down free throws would make other teams think twice about just hacking him to put him on the line. That would help his team.
If Bachynski could start finishing around the rim and converting those opportunities around the basket, it will have a dramatic impact on the Sun Devil offense. First, obviously, instead of scoring 12-13 points, he’d score 20-24. Secondly, it will cause the opponents to change their strategy on how they defend him. If he were able to start hurting the defense down low, they’ll have to double team him or at the very least, all the defenders will have to sink and take a look at helping out. This defensive reaction is what will cause Jonathan Gilling to be left wide open or Shaquille Mckissic to get a step on his man with a good angle. It will cause defensive breakdowns.
So, while it might be easy to talk about the shooting percentages of Jahii Carson and Jermaine Marshall, it’s actually Bachynski that can open up the door for his teammates. Of course, it’s a team effort. Everybody needs to step up in tournament play. But Jordan Bachynski needs to recapture the offensive prowess he had for that ten game stretch in January and early February.
Most experts believe that ASU is a “tough out” with the way Bachynski is playing right now. But his ability to be more of an offensive threat and stay on the floor (by staying out of early foul trouble) will make ASU a ridiculously formidable opponent in March.