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The Life

February 12, 2002
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When and how exactly was it that everybody seemed to bury Casey Jacobsen? Wrote him off the "all-" teams. Took his frost-haired mug down from the "star" lists. Figured he was just another one-dimensional, point-crazy beach boy who couldnít play without all those Stanford rebounders and passers and screeners who left him for the NBA.

Was it after his three-for-17 shooting flop in that early loss to Texas? His two-points-in-the-final-ten-minutes coughing fit in another upset to BYU? His scarcity of shots (barely seven in the first game?) and lack of impact while splitting that nonsensical, three-day doubleheader against hated rival Cal? Or maybe it was merely an avenging-angel, human nature kind of thing. Pure jealousy and joy that The Casester was always simply too ... too ... rich, preppy, clever, cocky and fine-looking. His spiked-up bleach job was the most talked-about cosmetic look on television until Greta Van Susteren had her eyes lifted back to 1984 -- and maybe Casey was finally getting his.

But just when Pac-10 opponents thought it safe to emerge from his backwater, Jacobsen has exploded all over again -- firing away from outrageous angles and distances while lighting up Arizona State for 49 points and Oregon for 41 in two of his last four games -- as revived Stanford (whose other star, center Curtis Borchardt, may be the most underrated big man in the land) has moved to 15 wins (8-4 in the conference) and solidified another NCAA tournament bid.

In the process Jacobsen has reminded all of us how really tough and ornery and big-occasion dedicated a kid can be -- heís 2-0 career against the school which spurned him (a place commonly referred to as Duke) and he again bagged UCLA in Pauley in January -- who grew up laboring on his ultra-demanding fatherís homemade court and taking severe hoop lickings from two older brothers. Oh yeah, and besides, who was supposed to be, for godsakes, a girl!

Boys came as easy as the ABCís to Von and Becky Jacobsen of Glendora, Calif. So they named them as such: Adam, Brock, Casey and, most recently, Derek (14). "But sure, I always wished for a daughter," says Becky, an original surfer chick out of San Clemente, Calif. "We actually bought a book and tried to do some of the little tricks that are supposed to enhance your chances of a baby being a girl. They always say girls are conceived in acid, boys in alkaline, right? Like, vinegar is acid, baking soda is alkaline."

The little tricks?

"Have we met before? I donít think we can talk about this anymore," Becky laughs, leaving an inquiring reporter more bewildered than ever.

"We were sure Casey would be the girl," says Becky. "But then he came in at 12 pounds, big boned, very sharp. I think he must have stretched me or moved things around or something because when I got pregnant again, I didnít get that big. So I thought, aha, this must be the girl. Lo and behold, Derek weighed 12 pounds, 8 ounces. Jeez. Vonís 6'4", Iím 5'10". But now Derekís on the same size track as Casey at the same age. Only he outweighs him by about 25 pounds."

In other words, Derek will be the first power forward among the brotherhood of perimeter Jacobsen marksmen who are the first set of bros to swish 600 combined career NCAA trifectas. Adam made 311 treys at Pacific, Brock totaled 92 at the University of San Diego and Casey has 209.

It wasnít as if Von was The Great Santini (though he sometimes loudly DuValled the heck out of his boys) or even the second coming of Marv Marinovich -- who maniacally raised infamous son, Todd, into that RoboQB who wound up his career tragically wallowing in rebellion, naked surfing, garage bands, drugs and jail. Indeed, Jacobsen pere was a friend of Marinovich and employed many of his motivational techniques. "Iíd tear Ďem down," says Von, referring to his sons. "But Becky was a complement to the whole deal. When theyíd cry, sheíd hug Ďem and build them right back up. It was a two-way thing."

Ironically, the Jacobsen parents are both Mormons who attended Brigham Young University for varying periods at varying times. They didnít meet until after college, when Von was beginning his construction career at the Mammoth Mountain ski resort following his basketball playing days at San Diego State and in Europe. "I was working at my dadís hamburger stand at Mammoth, a place called The Barking Spider," says Becky. "We were both Mormon but we donít really identify ourselves like that. We both left BYU and went elsewhere. Actually, after we got married and started raising the boys ... playing all those basketball games on Sundays, the church really frowned on us.

"Von has taken some serious hits about how he raised Casey and all the boys on basketball," Becky continues. "It did consume our lives. But our relationships with them are so close and loving, weíve always laughed and wondered, gee, is there really something wrong with us? The only thing Iíd change is Vonís timing. He was so tough on Casey right after a game when things were so emotional, the car rides home could be brutal. But a day later, when everybody was much more accepting ... I thought that would be a better time to talk. Von just didnít want to wait."

"I was intimidated most of the time by my dad," Casey says. "My mom was more my friend growing up. If I had a problem, Iíd go to her. But after I got to Stanford I realized that everything my dad did helped prepare me for what was to come. Now weíre closer than we ever were before. Heís even more of a friend now than a dad."

Meanwhile, itís Becky who does the honors on Casey's frost job every few weeks or so. Comes up to Palo Alto on game days with the essential products and spikes up the color right there in the dorm room. "Surprisingly, I donít take much ragging from the team about it," Casey says. "Iíve always been real straight with them. Told them I didnít like my original color so I changed it. In the summers I bleach the whole thing. I would dye it blond if I could. But coach (Mike Montgomery) doesnít like it. Heís an old-school guy and he doesnít like anything that singles out anybody on the court. He wants a guyís play to do that. My hair isnít as important to me as keeping my coach happy."

Not that Jacobsen has completely succeeded in that. When John Montgomery, the coachís 18-year old son, turned up with a similar dye job last year -- the coach subsequently hitting the roof -- Johnís explanation was completely plausible. "If Casey can do it ..." he said.

At least Montgomery can find comfort in the fact that, as the events of the last few weeks on The Farm have proven, Casey can still do it.

Curry Kirkpatrick is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. E-mail him at

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