Jacobsen talks a blue streak, makes Stanford foes see red

Terps know they tune out chatty guard at their peril

NCAA Tournament

March 24, 2001|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

ANAHEIM, Calif. - Casey Jacobsen, Stanford's All-American shooting guard, produces words like he does points, in torrents.

Ask him about anything. He has plenty to say about being lit up for 37 points by St. Joseph's Marvin O'Connor, about Juan Dixon of Maryland overcoming an upbringing as bleak as his was idyllic, about his 2-for-12 shooting in last year's upset loss to North Carolina.

He talks so much that it can irritate an opponent even before the game. Dixon took umbrage over comments by Jacobsen, who suggested that Stanford had an advantage against Maryland today because it had seen so much of the Terps on ESPN, a channel that carries few Pac-10 games.

"I don't understand it," Dixon said, referring to Jacobsen's complaints about a lack of exposure. "All I hear about is Stanford and Casey Jacobsen. If you like doing it ... just go out and play basketball."

Given Jacobsen's encyclopedic grasp of the facts on everyone playing college basketball, Dixon found it vexing that the player had never heard of O'Connor before this month. "That's why he just needs to stop talking so much and just play basketball."

Jacobsen, who played high school ball not too far from Anaheim's Arrowhead Pond, the site of his team's game against the Terps,even has lots to say about the rims at the venue where he might earn his first Final Four appearance.

"I did notice, the moment I walked on the court yesterday, they changed the rims," said Jacobsen, sounding like a fisherman reminiscing over the memory of his first catch.

Before he'd torched Cincinnati for a career-high 27 points on Thursday night, he said he'd never shot well at the Pond, where he'd played once for the state high school title.

"They used to be NBA rims, so tight, smaller for some reason. I noticed that they put college rims up ... and I shot a little bit better yesterday in that game.

"For shooters it's pretty important. The more I look at the rim, the more excited I get."

It makes sense coming from a player who grew up with a regulation half court in his backyard - nicknamed Taj Ma-hoop - on which he learned to shoot in waging basketball wars with his older brothers, Brock and Adam, who also played Division I basketball.

Of course, he also points out that he's made baskets on all sorts of hoops and against all sorts of teams, racking up 3,284 points at Glendora High as the second-highest scorer in California prep history. At Stanford, he averaged 14.5 points as a freshman, followed by an 18.0 average this season.

It's convenient to think of Jacobsen as a shooter. How can you resist, as he's capable of draining three-pointers from 23 feet and beyond?

"You have to respect him out to NBA range," said teammate Jason Collins, "because if you guard him at the college line, he's going to look at you like you're stupid and just shoot right in your face."

Dixon, Jacobsen's shooting-guard counterpart, deemed him a one-dimensional player in so many words: "He's a shooter. I have to really push up on him, take away the three-point shot and make him put the ball on the floor."

If only life were that simple, though it was for North Carolina last season, when the Tar Heels hounded Jacobsen into missing 10 of his 12 shot attempts while beating the No. 1-seeded Cardinal in the second round of the Southeast Regional.

As recently as last week, he said he looked to that game if only to know that he couldn't shoot any worse. But a year ago, the loss - like the often-critical postgame talks he used to get from his father, Von - crystallized the areas where he knew he had to improve.

"Casey has a lot of ways of motivating himself; if that pushes him, I think it's great," said Stanford coach Mike Montgomery.

So he can shoot and drive, as he did last year, plus he now boasts an intermediate game, seen when he pulled up on the left and hit a fallaway shot with 3.4 seconds left to beat Duke back in December.

So while Dixon may not be a believer, Maryland coach Gary Williams is. He would say that his star player and Stanford's are not different at all.

"They're both guys who can shoot the ball," Williams said. "They're great shooters and great scorers. Jacobsen has a pretty good game off the dribble. Juan does, too. ... That's why they're both great players."

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