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Inside College Basketball


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 AllAmerica 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

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 back 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

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."

Alford is also registering important wins on the recruiting
front--particularly in-state, where Davis had limited success
the last few years. The highly regarded five-man class that
Alford signed this fall features 6'8" forward Glen Worley of
Iowa City, the state's best senior.

One might surmise that Alford's success would be a source of
pleasure for his former coach, but Bob Knight appears to be as
irked now by Alford's popularity as he was when Alford played for
him. The two haven't spoken in more than a year--Alford says he
phoned Knight after getting the Iowa job, but Knight didn't
return the call--and Knight brushed off questions about Alford at
the Oct. 31 Big Ten media day. (The two men saw one another there
but still didn't speak.) "I don't know what I did to strain the
relationship, but I've got to move on," Alford says. He can trace
much of what he knows about basketball to his college days, but
not all of it. No one would ever accuse Bob Knight of coaching

COLOR PHOTO: MANNY MILLAN Jarron Collins and the Cardinal came out on top in their battle with Iowa, but the Hawkeyes were winners too.

COLOR PHOTO: AL TIELEMANS Griffin is the prize of Seton Hall's top recruiting class.

A New Beast of the Big East

Seton Hall coach Tommy Amaker has never so much as tasted a
beer, and he only sips wine on special occasions. However, on
the evening of Aug. 6 Amaker got the kind of phone call that
could drive a man to drink. Eddie Griffin, a 6'9" forward from
Philadelphia's Roman Catholic High who is widely regarded as
being among the top three high school seniors in the nation,
rang Amaker at home to report that he intended to sign with
Seton Hall. "You're serious, right? You're not joking?" Amaker
asked. When Griffin replied he was indeed coming, Amaker told
him, "Eddie, I don't drink, but I'm going to open a bottle of

New Year's Eve came early for Amaker, who in only his third year
at Seton Hall assembled the nation's top recruiting class during
the 1999 early-signing period, which began on Nov. 10. Besides
Griffin's, Amaker also collected letters of intent last week
from two other elite prospects--Andre Barrett, a crackerjack
5'8" point guard from New York City's Rice High, and 6'6"
swingman Marcus Toney-El from nearby Seton Hall Prep--as well as
from 6'7" Damion Fray, a promising forward from Jamaica. "Every
year there's a 'greatest recruiting class in history,'"
recruiting analyst Tom Konchalski says, "but they usually go to
schools who have been on top or have great tradition. Seton Hall
doesn't have those things."

Toney-El verbally committed on the first day of the July
evaluation period. "That really got us out of the blocks,"
Amaker says. Toney-El and Barrett were roommates during the
Adidas ABCD Camp in Teaneck, N.J., in early July, and Toney-El
importuned Barrett to follow him to Seton Hall.

Meanwhile, Barrett and Griffin played on the same team at ABCD
and were remarkably simpatico. "Every time he grabbed a rebound,
he was looking for me because he knew he was getting the ball
back," Barrett says. Thanks largely to Barrett, Griffin ended up
as the third-highest scorer in camp, and the two started talking
about playing in college together. Griffin was considering North
Carolina at the time, but Tar Heels coach Bill Guthridge
wouldn't offer Barrett a scholarship because he was vainly
holding out for Omar Cook, the top-rated point guard in New York
City, at Christ the King High.

Barrett and Griffin had taken unofficial visits to Seton Hall
last spring, and they started talking seriously about that
option while rooming together during July's Eastern Invitational
Camp in Trenton, N.J. Griffin, however, said he wouldn't commit
until Barrett did. "He didn't think I was serious," Barrett
says. Barrett called Amaker on Aug. 4, and Griffin committed two
days later.

The sequence of events stands in stark contrast to Amaker's
first season on the recruiting trail, when he barely missed out
on Al Harrington, who entered the NBA draft. That loss hurt, but
being so close still seemed to elevate Seton Hall's profile,
which led to Amaker's success this fall. "You have to be in the
game before you can win it," he says. "Sometimes you do
everything you can and you wind up thinking, How the heck did we
lose that kid? Then one day you wake up and you're thinking, How
the heck did we get him?"