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.