After Ryan Bafaloukos beautifully broke down ASU men's basketball's guard situation, the second part of our series focuses on the big men down low. Sun Devil Nation will be carefully examining the development of both 7-footers in Jordan Bachynski and Ruslan Pateev. As for the rookies or newcomers, local Arizona products Kenny Martin and Eric Jacobsen will also battle in the paint.
Jordan Bachynski (6.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG in 2011-2012)
Come the opening tip off on Saturday afternoon, Jordan Bachynski should be penciled in as the Devils starting center. Assessing Bachynski's 2011-12 campaign is tough because of limited minutes played and his inability to get into game shape. However, once he finally got rolling, the 7-foot-2 giant displayed solid potential.
As Pac-12 play rolled around, Bachynski was dialed in, scoring double digits seven times compared to none out of conference. The "Stormin' Mormon" took over for Pateev in the back half of the season. After a full off-season of training and finding his niche, Bachynski could be the bruiser Coach Herb Sendek is searching for. The key word in the prior sentence is could, as he still aims to develop reliable back to the basket post moves.
Another key for Bachynski to succeed will be improving his rebounding. In 30 contests, he only accumulated 10-plus rebounds twice, which is unacceptable. If ASU wants to even have the opportunity to play fast pace ball Bachysnki must improve those sub-par numbers. Can he? Absolutely. The team is now running a man-to-man defense, meaning he won't get drawn away from the rim as often.
My prediction for Bachynski this season is about eight points and six boards-per-game. Expect him to collect around 25-28 minutes nightly, and be relied upon heavily.
Ruslan Pateev (3.0 PPG, 2.0 RPG in 2011-2012)
Remember playing around in the playground and always selecting anybody extremely tall first? Pateev was that kid, but his simple height advantage doesn't work in Division one college basketball. Being 7-feet tall definitely can't hurt, yet is practically useless with no athleticism.
Sorry for the harsh treatment Pateev, or any of his friends, family or fans. It's all out of love, and I hope he proves me wrong. Conversely, he did look slightly improved in the Maroon and Gold Scrimmage, hitting multiple mini skyhooks.
Pateev is clearly ASU's second option at center, and is hopefully hungry to improve after losing his job. Watching Pateev chase down shooters was laughable, making my running form seem like Usain Bolt. Thankfully, that task will no longer be required and can just attempt to alter opposing team's shots.
My prediction for Pateev in 2012-2013 is four points per game and four rebounds. Pateev should see limited action, earning about 10 minutes during spot duty.
Kenny Martin (15.5 PPG, 12.1 RPG in 2011-2012 at Kellis HS)
Kenny Martin heads into Wells Fargo Arena battling for minutes. The true freshman native of Glendale, Arizona, can rebound nicely and also shoot well, especially for somebody at 6-foot-8. Martin can scoot out to 20 feet and comfortably connect.
Although he struggled at times early on, the coaching staff is very high on Martin. According to people familiar with the program, Martin may contribute immediately off the bench.
After watching Martin for about 30 minutes of practically meaningless action, one impression I gathered was consistent effort. Martin's length helps him contest shoots, yet needs to put on weight to properly battle in the paint area.
My expectations for Martin are 6-10 minutes and should increase or decrease based on performance in those situations.
Eric Jacobsen (15.9 PPG, 11.7 RPG in 2011-2012 at Hamilton HS)
Eric Jacobsen could be the man in the middle for numerous upcoming seasons. He is listed at 6-foot-10 and 245 pounds, and has put on 30 pounds since high school. Scouts have been impressed with his footwork and nice drop step move.
It's doubtful that Jacobsen garners any significant playing time because of the two returners previously mentioned. Therefore, Jacobsen has time to come into his own and become tougher.
My expectations for Jacobsen could actually be redshirting, if not, a plethora of DNPs. Although, I do believe in Jacobsen, don't forget his name!
I don't know if Bachynski is winning the award or getting it by default. Nonetheless, Bachysnki earns MVP and breakout honors. The new defensive scheme will help him accumulate more blocks and possibly even be physically imposing.
In addition, Bachynski should get some easy buckets when Carson drives and passes or via easy put backs. He may be the only person mentioned in this entire article that remains relevant.
Stay tuned for next week's edition of our ASU basketball preview, when Ryan Bafaloukos breaks down the forwards/wings Wednesday.