Wizards

Bachynski brothers get first real test

Bachynski brothers get first real test

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) As the Bachynski family moved around from one place to another in Canada, John and Yolanda kept track of their children's heights with a piece of wood instead of marks on the wall.

June 12, 1994: Jordan is 4 feet at 5 years old, Dallin 3 feet, 3 1/2 inches at 3.

Sept. 6, 2004: Jordan 6-4 1/2 (he'll grow another two inches in two months) at 15, Dallin 5-11 at 13.

May 10, 2010: Jordan 7-1 1/2 at 20, Dallin 6-11 1/2 at 18.

The final marks were more of an estimation for Jordan, though; the 2X3 they used only went up to 7-1.

``Didn't think we'd need anything bigger,'' John Bachynski said. ``Oops.''

Now, the Bachynski brothers face a new kind of measuring stick, one they've been waiting for pretty much their entire lives: Against each other on a basketball court in a game that means something beyond bragging rights.

After years of battling in the family driveway, the brawny brothers will face each other on opposing teams for the first time Wednesday night when Dallin and the Utah Utes travel to the desert to face Jordan and the Arizona State Sun Devils.

Befitting two 7-foot brothers, this should be big.

``I'm so stoked to play him,'' Dallin said. ``It's all I think about.''

The Bachynskis have waited a long time for this.

Two years apart, their age difference was just enough that they never faced each other on opposing teams, even when they went to different high schools.

As they got older, even the driveway games became scarce.

Jordan suffered an ankle injury his senior season at Centennial High School in Calgary, then spent the next two years in South Florida on a church mission.

When he returned, Dallin was on his way out, leaving for a two-year mission in Croatia after playing a season at Southern Utah.

Now fully grown - Jordan is 7-2, Dallin 7-0 - the brothers are itching to see how they stack up against each other after nearly five years apart.

``My brother has a lot of confidence. Whether that is well-placed or not, we'll find out,'' Jordan said. ``He's been talking a lot, but so have I. It's going to be a battle out there and I'm really excited to go at him.''

It'll be one of college basketball's rarest battles: Two 7-foot brothers playing on opposing teams.

John is 6-foot-5 and was a solid high school player. Yolanda is 6-2 and played collegiately in Canada.

Their daughter, Jessica, is a 6-1 sophomore forward at Utah Valley.

The Bachynskis are all big, but even as Jordan and Dallin shot up the homemade measuring stick, no one saw them growing up to be this tall and certainly not playing Division I basketball against each other.

``It's not something you expect,'' John Bachynski said. ``We never expected them to play DI basketball when they were growing up and then having them both playing with a sister playing DI, it's kind of surreal.''

Jordan and Dallin grew up always trying to top each other, from seeing who could eat more, do more pushups, lift more weight, who could block the other's shot or score over the other.

Monopoly games disintegrated into shouting or shoving matches.

Basketball often was more like wrestling, particularly if someone else was watching.

And, because they were oversized and boisterous, the damage could be extensive, from bloody noses and black eyes to holes in the walls, including a memorable Christmas crash that left Jordan and Dallin spending the afternoon with trowels and plaster.

``It was pretty much a 7-foot hole in the wall because we were wrestling and he either gave me a kidney shot or a punch to the stomach, and I was so mad at him that I picked him up and threw him as hard as I could into the wall,'' Dallin said. ``He ended up kind of going through it and we ended up having to fix it because my mom didn't want to deal with that on Christmas. I do know how to drywall now because of my relationship with my brother.''

Beating his brother has been a driving force for Dallin.

Jordan was always older and bigger, so Dallin spent much of his life trying to catch up to his big brother, live up to his exploits.

The years of getting his shots swatted by Jordan instilled a never-give-up tenacity in Dallin and forced him to develop better ball-handling skills and perimeter shooting.

Now, close to even in size and with a fully-developed game, Dallin gets a shot at showing big bro what he really can do.

``They both work hard, but Dallin has always wanted to catch up,'' Yolanda said. ``He's always been two years younger, two inches shorter. He's tired of being Jordan's little brother and wants to start doing stuff on his own.''

When they meet Wednesday night, it should be more of an even matchup.

Dallin played well early in the season, including a 22-point, 16-rebound performance against Idaho State, and supplanted Jason Washburn as Utah's starting center. He's gone into a bit of a funk since December started, but has been a key contributor off the bench now that Washburn has returned to the starting lineup.

Dallin is shooting 52 percent while averaging 7.6 points, 6.3 rebounds.

Jordan started to play better after becoming more aggressive last season and it's carried over to this year.

He was Arizona State's leading scorer with 17 points in the season opener against Central Arkansas and set a school record with 12 blocked shots while registering the first triple-double in school history against Cal State-Northridge on Dec. 8.

Jordan has 59 blocked shots this season, already fifth in Arizona State history, and is third nationally with 4.82 per game. He's averaging 9.8 points and 7.1 rebounds.

``This will be the first time they'll be on kind of a level playing field,'' John Bachynski said. ``It'll be interesting to see how it plays out.''

One thing's for sure: It'll be big.

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Despite place in standings, Wizards believe playoffs aren't a pipe dream

Despite place in standings, Wizards believe playoffs aren't a pipe dream

WASHINGTON -- This may be the most realistic and self-aware Wizards team we have seen in a while. It wasn't long ago they had a penchant for talking big about what they believed they could accomplish. Nowadays, knowing where they are in the standings, their expectations are much more measured.

They know they are 12th in the Eastern Conference, even after beating the Pistons on Monday. They know their 14-28 record, which is 14 games under .500 and has them on pace to win 27 total games, isn't good.

But the Wizards are allowed to dream and they say making the playoffs is still something they would like to do.

"That's the goal, that's every day for us. [It's] in the back of my mind," shooting guard Bradley Beal said.

"I watch the games, I watch the standings and everything. We're not talking about it," head coach Scott Brooks said. "If that comes into play [we'll see]. The seventh and eighth seeds, the records aren't great."

There is certainly a case for that. The two teams currently occupying the bottom two playoff spots in the East have sub-.500 records. The seventh-ranked Magic are 20-23 and the Brooklyn Nets are in eighth with an 18-24 mark.

Last season, the Charlotte Hornets held up the Eastern Conference playoff bracket with a losing record as the eighth seed. They went 39-43, not good but still a much better pace than the Wizards are currently on. To win 39 games, they would have to go 25-16 the rest of the way.

Though they have shown some positive signs, going 4-4 in their last eight games, that would require going to a completely different level in the second half of the season. Still, there is no harm in maintaining their goals.

Beal, for one, has envisioned a way it can happen.

"Especially once All-Star hits, that second half is just flying. We have to tighten up and try to get some wins here before the break because that's usually the time when teams like to ease off the pedal a little bit. We have to take advantage of [that], that advantage of our schedule, take care of our bodies, and rally together," he said.

If the Wizards really, really wanted to go for the playoffs, they could try to add some pieces before the Feb. 6 trade deadline. But that should not be expected. In fact, this year's deadline for the Wizards likely won't be affected much at all by the playoff picture.

It's hard to envision them being buyers and they may not be able to be true sellers, either, due to injuries and other factors. Also, there is a belief in the front office that keeping a close distance in the playoff race could be a nice incentive for their young players, that having something to work for later in the season could help their development.

If the Wizards did somehow make the playoffs or even get close, that would be quite the surprise and it would say a lot about the direction of the organization. But in the long-term, it would seem to be more beneficial if they continue on their current course and end up with a top draft pick.

The Wizards right now have the fifth-worst record in the league. That would net them a lot of ping-pong balls for the draft lottery.

It seems likely that's where this season will end. But it doesn't hurt to try.

"We just want to play. We just want to finish the second half of the season playing better," Brooks said.

The Wizards are only 4 1/2 games back in the playoff race. Stranger things have happened.

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Yu Darvish lauds Rui Hachimura for 'exceptional' accomplish playing in the NBA

Yu Darvish lauds Rui Hachimura for 'exceptional' accomplish playing in the NBA

Rui Hachimura has attracted the best athletes Japan has to offer in his rookie season in the NBA. 

From Shohei Ohtani to Naomi Osaka, Hachimura has impressed both on and off the floor, including Cubs pitcher Yu Darvish. He stopped by to see Hachimura's Wizards beat the Pistons Monday. 

"That's right," Darvish said to the Wizards' Japanese website. "We are going to dinner after the game so I stopped by."

Darvish and Hachimura are represented by the same agency and are two of the biggest Japanese stars in American sports. Darvish has had two down years with the Cubs in 2018 and 2019, but he's still considered one of the best pitchers to ever come out of Japan. 

Hachimura, while sidelined with a groin injury, flashed plenty of potential as a rookie for the Wizards. Before going down, he was averaging 13.9 points and 5.8 rebounds while shooting 48.2 percent. 

Darvish admitted he didn't know much about basketball, not even what stats are good to use. But he only cares that Hachimura is having fun. 

Selected with the ninth pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, Hachimura became the first Japanese born player to be drafted in the top-10. Japan has produced a number of great baseball players but hasn't been able to produce as many hoopers. 

"You don't have to be tall or big to play baseball," Darvish said. "But when it comes to basketball, you have to be tall and athletic and contribute to the team on a nightly basis. I think what he's accomplishing is more exceptional."

Scott Brooks isn't sure if Hachimura will return before the beginning of February and the team has yet to provide a timetable beyond that. Hopefully, we'll see him back on the floor soon because an entire country outside of the US is watching and can't get enough. 

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