TEMPE, Ariz. – Monday night was always family night in the Bachynski household, and the group would gather to play games, create crafts, go to a movie or maybe just talk — anything to reinforce the family unit. It generally went well, although teenagers Jordan and younger brother Dallin occasionally let their passionate side show.
“Sometimes it turned into a little bit of a battle,” Jordan Bachynski said with a grin. “Everything was a competition. Every time we played, the winner … you knew who the winner was.”
The sibling rivalry that the Bachynski brothers brought to Risk and Monopoly may be evident when they play against each other for the first time in their college careers Wednesday, when Arizona State and Utah meet in the Pac-12 season opener at Wells Fargo Arena.
The two are good friends, naturally, and continue to grow closer. Each gave the other tips on how to adjust to the college game after returning from their respective LDS missions. The two play video games and talk constantly, sometimes about the girls Dallin dates (Jordan is already married). They played one-on-one games in church gyms and on the sport court their parents installed in the driveway back home in Calgary, Alberta, but they know this will be different, as difficult as that might be.
“I just have to treat it like any other game,” said ASU’s Jordan, 2 years older and, at 7-foot-2, two inches taller than Dallin. “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I can’t have any family other than my teammates on the court. I have to treat him like another opponent. I have to go and give it my all, because if I think of him as my brother, I’m going to psyche myself out and put too much stress on myself.”
Jordan is a physical player, a force on the inside, where bodies and body parts collide in the heat of battle.
“We are going to be going hard. I know he is going to be giving me a few elbows, and I’m going to be giving him. It’s all part of the game, though. You have to have an on-court and an off-court persona. You have to leave everything off the court off the court. Once you cross those lines, you don’t have any friends,” he said.
Jordan is having the best season of his career in his third year in the program, and he is one of several reasons ASU (11-2) already has more victories than it did in all of 2011-12. He is averaging 9.8 points and 7.1 rebounds in about 24 minutes a game while relentlessly policing the paint. Jordan has 59 blocked shots, tied with Kansas 7-footer Drew Withey for second in Division I behind St. John’s 6-9 Chris Obekpa, who has 64.
Some call him Jordan Block-chynski, and he is one of four players in the NCAA Division I with a triple-double this season after getting 13 points, 12 rebounds and a school-record 12 blocked shots against Cal State Northridge on Dec. 8.
Dallin, who is in his first season at Utah following a transfer from Southern Utah and a two-year LDS mission, is averaging 7.6 points and 6.3 rebounds in about 19 minutes a game. He has started much of the season but came off the bench in the Utes’ last game, a 72-38 drubbing of College of Idaho. Like ASU, Utah (8-4) has won more games than it did a season ago, and a Bachynski has been a factor.
Jordan, who has a nice flair for computer design, has found a way to commemorate the inaugural Bachynski brothers’ bash. He designed a logo that contains elements of both teams, combining the traditional maroon letters “ASU” with the red Utah “U” as the final letter, complete with a black circle around it and two feathers hanging down.
Patriarch John, who coached both brothers for one season in high school in Calgary, used that design to make a hat and a T-shirt. The shirt will feature Jordan’s logo on the front and the family name on the back along with a maple leaf (the symbol of their home country) and the numbers of each player, 13 and 31.
The game has become an impromptu family reunion. John and his wife, Yolanda, are expected to attend the game, and the viewing party could bring in as many as 25. Both Jordan and Dallin have asked teammates for extra tickets.
Jordan might look forward to facing Utah for another reason. When the Sun Devils played in Salt Lake City last season, Bachynski spent time with his stake president, who encouraged Bachynski to play with a more aggressive mindset. It took. Jordan had his first career double-double against the Utes, finishing with 11 points and 12 rebounds. He also blocked four shots. The game served as a springboard — after that, he averaged 10.1 points and 5.9 rebounds in ASU’s final 13 games.
“It’s always been a lot of fun, the brotherly competition, in basketball and in everything,” Jordan said.
“He’s definitely developed a lot since high school. He’s got some new stuff on the books, but our coaches do a great job of scouting. I’ve been watching him, he’s been watching me. It should be a great matchup. He is the hardest worker I know, and I really admire him for that.
“I’ve always looked forward to playing my brother.”