Although the opening game between the Arizona State Sun Devils and Central Arkansas Bears may not have been the most exciting throughout, there were some things that we can take away from this game. Freshman point guard Jahii Carson will be instrumental in the success of each and every player on this team with his ability to drive in the lane and kick it to whoever he so chooses on the court.
Look for Jonathan Gilling to play a big role for the Devils as well. He led the team with 35 minutes played on Saturday, recording 11 points, 6 boards and going 3 of 7 from behind the arc.
But most of all, it was the play of center Jordan Bachynski that stood out. His 7'3" stature will allow him to have a size advantage against almost anyone he plays. He utilized that to his full advantage on Saturday and his coach was very pleased.
"I thought he really anchored the middle for us on 8 of 10 field goal attempts," Devils coach Herb Sendek said after the game. "I just think he continues to get better. I think we saw him really take some positive strides the last third of the season last year. It was good to see him start in that same direction again this evening.
"When he's aggressive and has the edgy mindset, he has the chance to play his best. When he's passive, it just doesn't work out."
Apparently, Bachynski decided to come out and be aggressive against the Bears. His 17 points, 12 rebounds and 9 blocks allowed the Devils to get a fairly comfortable win for their opening game of the season.
"I just play hard. It doesn't really matter if I have one block, two blocks, eight blocked shots. I just play hard," Bachynski said of his performance. "I don't pay attention to the scoreboard. You can't do that or you'll get a big head, you know?"
He credited man defense and hard work to getting the nine blocked shots against UCA. Not having to close out to the corners, which the matchup zone forced him to do in the past, allowed him to stay near the rim and get plenty of tips, blocks and rebounds.
Not being lackadaisical or complacent are the keys to Bachynski having success this season. His teammates know that he has a tendency to get lost in the middle of games. And he knows it, too. His play in practice throughout the week can really determine how he will play in the following game.
"Words can't even explain the way I think he played. I see him a lot of times where he's lackadaisical in practice and then I see times where he just goes out there and nobody can score on him," teammate Jahii Carson said. "I think with the size advantage that he had that he utilized it. He helped us tremendously on defense. He gets rebounds, he's strong with the ball. I just think he's a dominant force, especially for being 7'3" and so mobile. I think it helps us a lot."
"There have been tough days in practice where, coach can tell you, I am not there... That's one thing that I've been working on. Just to come every game, come every practice and work hard."
Against Central Arkansas, Bachynski managed to record a school record 9 blocks. One more and he would have recorded his first career triple-double and the first Devil triple-double in team history. If he continues to stay aggressive and keeps his mind in the game, the sky is the limit for Jordan Bachynski.