Freshman Casey Jacobsen shone in an impressive start by Stanford
He knew the transition from high school to college would be difficult, but Stanford freshman swingman Casey Jacobsen didn't imagine that such a harsh setback would befall him so early. Last month Jacobsen got back his first paper in a philosophy course entitled "The Good Life." He had graduated from Glendora ( Calif.) High with a 3.9 GPA, and he thought he had taken his best shot with his essay. His professor, however, slapped it into the stands—and dissed him, to boot. "I got a C. I'd never gotten a C before," Jacobsen says. "The teacher tore it up. She said, 'Your bad thesis wasn't as much of a problem as your grammar and punctuation.' "
On the court, though, the 6'6" Jacobsen, who was a Parade and McDonald's High School All-America last year, aced his first major test of the season, in last week's Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Madison Square Garden. He came off the bench to score a total of 25 points in wins over Duke (80-79 in overtime) and Iowa (72-58). Jacobsen made six of nine shots from three-point range and was scintillating midway through the second half against Iowa, when he broke open the game by scoring 14 of his 17 points in a span of 5:16. "I was confident tonight because I have to be," he said afterward. "Otherwise I'm not going to play well."
The Cardinal will need Jacobsen to keep playing well, at least until 6'9" senior Mark Madsen is healthy again. Madsen, the lone remaining starter from Stanford's 1998 Final Four team, suffered a severe pull of his right hamstring against Duke and isn't expected hack until the end of December. Jacobsen must be effective on the perimeter to complement the inside strength of Collins twins Jarron (6'10") and Jason (6'11"), who combined for 35 points and 22 rebounds against Iowa.
Having grown up in a basketball family—his father and two older brothers all played at mid-majors—Jacobsen possesses both the ability and the requisite swagger to be a game-breaker. "At one point [against Duke] I was fatigued," said Cardinal senior guard David Moseley, "and he came up to me and said, 'Let's go, Mo, suck it up.' That's not the typical thing you expect a freshman to do."
Which isn't to say Jacobsen doesn't do some typical freshman things. After the game with Iowa he was talking to reporters when senior guard Alex Gelbard called out, "Case, it doesn't matter that you had 17 points. You've still got the laundry bags." A few moments later, there was Jacobsen trudging down the hall with a large duffel bag on his shoulder and a sheepish grin on his face.
Iowa's Steve Alford
A Disciple Goes His Own Way
Steve Alford's players couldn't forget his motto if they tried. He writes it on chalkboards, prints it on T-shirts and intones it at every turn: Work hard. Work smart. Have fun. Iowa has done plenty of each since Alford, an All-America guard on Indiana's 1987 national championship team, replaced Tom Davis on March 22, and Alford's formula is already paying off: The unranked Hawkeyes upended No. 1 Connecticut 70-68 in the first round of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic last Thursday. Even though they fell to Stanford in the championship game the next night, they spent Saturday strolling around Manhattan during the day and seeing Smokey Joe's Cafe on Broadway at night, rather than immediately flying back to Iowa City. "We're not running some military camp," Alford says. "I want them working harder than anybody, but I also want them to know they're 19- and 20-year-olds and they're supposed to enjoy what they're doing."
Alford, 34, proved himself to be a formidable coach while amassing a 156-77 record during stints at Division III Manchester College in North Manchester, Ind., and at Southwest Missouri State, which he guided to the Sweet 16 last spring. But he hasn't lost his sense of fun. He has been known to scrap practice in favor of games of Pictionary or "basketball golf," a game he cooked up at Manchester that requires players to make 18 different trick shots. Since taking over at Iowa, Alford has organized two Softball games pitting coaches against players, and on the last day of preseason conditioning the players held a "draft" to select teams for a Wiffle ball game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Everyone but the two captains, Jacob Jaacks and Ryan Luehrsmann, waited in a hallway until his name was called, whereupon the player donned a cap and conducted mock interviews as if David Stern had just announced the Hawkeye's name in the NBA draft.
"At times he's a coach who disciplines us, and at other times he's one of the guys," says Jaacks, a 6'8" center who had 20 points and six rebounds in the defeat of UConn. "He's not that far removed from when he played, so he can relate to the things we go through."