Before playing against Utah last Saturday, Arizona State sophomore center Jordan Bachynski said he was going to become more of an animal on the court. That desire is certainly coming into fruition after two back-to-back games of solid play.
Bachynski was close to posting a double-double in Thursday's 60-54 loss against Washington, scoring nine points and grabbing a career high 13 rebounds. But it wasn't the numbers that were impressive as much as the way Bachynski went about his work.
Standing 7-foot-2, Bachynski hasn't always taken enough advantage of his size, but Thursday he was elbowing defenders out of the way before elevating to rim, vigorously hitting the offensive glass, and altering shots on the defensive end before getting back off his feet quickly to collect crucial rebounds.
The big man was bothered about the loss and is focused on bringing the same type of individual effort to every game the rest of the season and beyond.
"Losing is never good and it hurts down to my core, but I'm just going to keep batting and keep bringing energy," Bachynski said.
Bachynski and fellow center Ruslan Pateev -- both hovering above 7-feet -- also shared the court for several minutes in Thursday night's game, something that hasn't happened much, if at all, this season.
According to Bachynski, ASU coach Herb Sendek went with the move because it created mismatches when Washington was in its zone defense.
"I love playing with Ruslan; I love practicing with Ruslan," Bachynski said. "He's a great player. He finishes around the bucket, he's strong, he's big and he's made me better in practice. It's so much fun to be able to be on the same team for once, instead of having to battle against his big frame."
ASU will face Washington State on Saturday, in a game junior guard Trent Lockett is unlikely to play in due to an ankle sprain suffered close to two weeks ago. If Lockett doesn't play, Bachynski will need to continue to be sharp in hopes of turning his team's fortune around.
"I'm just trying to do what coach said and just pick up a little bit more," he said. "I'm just trying to carry my weight on the team."
Gilling Continues To Exceed Expectations
ASU freshman forward Jonathan Gilling had another stellar game Thursday, scoring a career high 20 points and only committing two turnovers in 39 minutes of play. Gilling sunk five 3-pointers and is looking more composed with every game that goes by.
"Jonathan is quickly emerging as an outstanding player, and you can see how much we go to him right now and ask him to share a heavy lifting load for us, especially in Trent's absence," Sendek said. "I'm just thrilled with his progress and really excited looking into his future. But he's a tremendous shooter, and he had some shots today that over time he's going to make and even with that he's just a gamer."