A year ago Sunday, the Arizona State men’s basketball team was in a near identical situation to the one it was in Saturday: an 18-5 record (vs. 18-6 this season) with eight games to play and an important home game staring it in the face. ASU dropped that game to Stanford by three and it was the beginning of the end of the Sun Devils’ NCAA Tournament chances as they lost six of their remaining eight. Saturday’s 74-72 victory over Oregon at Wells Fargo Arena was huge. Home losses really hurt once the tournament selection committee starts crunching numbers. ASU will be helped by the fact that all but one of its remaining opponents (Utah) has a two-digit RPI. The Ducks came into the game ranked 40th in the RPI standings, the Sun Devils 42nd. … Bottom line: ASU would not have won this game last season. They are deeper, more versatile and have a far more confident Jordan Bachynski, who had the game-saving block. … A nod of respect to Bachynski, and not just because he scored 26 on Saturday, or because he became the Pac-12 all-time leader in blocked shots in a game against Oregon State on Thursday. That night he also referenced an era when blocks weren’t recorded and some of the game’s best big men weren’t acknowledged for their skills in that area. “It’s huge,” he said. “I am honored that I can hold that title. You also have to think about guys like Bill Walton. … It’s because of guys like him that they laid the foundation so that I can hold this record.” … A second nod of respect to the Phoenix-based Harlem Globetrotters, who are in the Valley this weekend for performances that conclude Sunday at US Airways Center. Throughout the years, the Globetrotters have managed to remain kid and fan friendly. … A recent headline in the Cleveland’s Plain Dealer asked, “Who is Cleveland Cavaliers’ acting General Manager David Griffin?” Anyone who has spent any time around the Suns organization during the past two decades could answer that. The Brophy Prep and ASU graduate is the inspiration for professional sports teams’ interns everywhere. He started with the Suns in 1993 as an intern. He worked his way up the professional ladder, moving to media relations and then basketball operations, where his work ethic and analytical know-how served him well. After 17 seasons with the Suns, he joined the Cavaliers as vice president of basketball operations in 2010. … I enjoy watching girls basketball, but I think high school athletic directors could do the sport a favor by putting as much energy into hiring girls coaches as they do boys coaches. There are many terrific girls coaches in the state, but the sport hasn’t progressed as quickly as it should because there aren’t enough of them. … Is it me, or did it look like Ralph Lauren used an ugly Christmas sweater as inspiration for the U.S. Olympic team’s opening ceremony outfit? C’mon, Ralph! … As an animal lover, I am appalled by the alleged mistreatment of stray dogs in Sochi and am thrilled by the outrage it has sparked. I only hope the public shows similar passion in its disgust for human-rights issues surrounding the Winter Games, including the mistreatment of migrant workers and Russia’s recent anti-propaganda law targeting the gay community. … Coyotes fans hit the trifecta Friday night at Jobing.com Arena. In addition to many of the key figures from the 1980 Miracle on Ice team being honored, Alice Cooper showed up for a surprise performance and the Coyotes showed up for an impressive 2-0 victory over Chicago. … While talking to ASU football coaches on signing day, the topic of junior college players trying to adjust to a new level of expectations came up. Both Todd Graham and offensive coordinator Mike Norvell marveled at what an aberration wide receiver Jaelen Strong was, and how quickly he transitioned to playing major college football. Indeed, Strong was the leading receiver in ASU’s season-opening victory over Sacramento State with six catches for 58 yards and a touchdown.