Saturday, March 24, 2001

Stanford-Maryland preview

Jacobsen's surfing taught him about Terps

AP Sports Writer

        ANAHEIM, Calif. — Stanford's Casey Jacobsen likes watching college basketball as much as he loves playing. Even though Maryland is 3,000 miles from Stanford's campus, the Terrapins are no strangers to him.

        “I've seen them, Duke and North Carolina more than any team in the country,” Jacobsen said. “Just the other day I was watching an interview with coach (Gary) Williams, and I feel like I know him, too.”

        Jacobsen will put the knowledge he gained channel surfing all season to use Saturday when top-seeded Stanford (31-2) meets No. 3 seed Maryland (24-10) for the West Regional championship and a trip to the Final Four.

        Jacobsen eagerly anticipates defending Maryland guard Juan Dixon, who averages 18.2 points and should surpass the 1,500-point mark during the game.

        “He is one of the best guards moving without the ball. He's always looking for an open seam. He never stands still,” said Jacobsen, whose scoring average matches Dixon's. “It's going to be a big-time challenge for me.”

        Dixon is quick and loves to swipe the ball. His average of 2.7 steals puts him in the top 15 nationally.

        “Getting steals allows me to get easy baskets in transition,” he said.

        That's what Jacobsen will try to prevent. Dixon, meanwhile, will try to disrupt Jacobsen's deadly perimeter game. Jacobsen is coming off a career-high 27 points in a 78-65 win over Cincinnati on Thursday.

        “He's the type of player that likes to set up his game off the catch-and-shoot jump shots,” Dixon said. “It's a team effort, so we're going to have to contain him and try to limit his shots.”

        The other top matchup involves 7-foot Stanford twins Jason and Jarron Collins against 6-8 Lonny Baxter, a wide-body who has had double-figure scoring and rebounding efforts in two of Maryland's three NCAA tournament games.

        “I would compare him to (Arizona's) Michael Wright, a very physical player in the post and a similar body type,” Jason said. “He likes to get down low, be physical, get the ball up on the glass. He's a good rebounder.”

        Maryland coach Gary Williams compares the Collins twins' size to North Carolina, and their shooting touch to Duke.

        “They both can pass, they're effective at reading defenses and they shoot the ball pretty well,” he said. “They don't just post them up on the block and if the ball gets there, fine. They're a big part of the offense, so they have to be guarded in each half-court possession.”

        The Terps can throw a variety of bodies at Stanford, allowing them to maintain their uptempo offense. Maryland's reserves have scored 20 or more points in 24 games this season.

        “That's our best game, when we run,” Williams said. “The only reason I use the bench is because those guys are good enough to come in and not affect the way we play. In fact, they almost play better sometimes.”

        As good as the individual matchups are, Jacobsen said one person won't make the difference for either team.

        “I don't think if a player blows up for 20 or 30, it's going to hurt one team or another,” he said. “I don't think Maryland or Stanford would be here right now if we didn't have teams that perform and not just individuals.”

        At stake is a berth in next week's Final Four in Minneapolis, which would be a rare achievement for either team. Stanford has been there just twice, the last time in 1998, while the Terrapins have never gone.

        “We've got a perfect chance to get this done,” said forward Terence Morris, who struggled with four-point efforts against George Mason and Georgetown in the tournament.

        In between, Morris scored 14 points against Georgia State.

        “He's had games where he didn't shoot well, but he's always come back,” Williams said. “You keep going, you don't change anything.”

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