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VALLEY/VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Jacobsen's Ladder

Pacific Guard, One Three-Point Basket Away From Big West Record, Has Become Complete Player

January 28, 1998|DAN LOUMENA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

STOCKTON — When University of the Pacific Coach Bob Thomason was scouring basketball camps in search of a shooting guard in 1992, he was pointed in the direction of Adam Jacobsen, then preparing for his senior season at Crescenta Valley High.

But it wasn't Jacobsen's long-range shooting that caught Thomason's attention.

"At the end of the first day of camp, he sprained his ankle," Thomason said. "The next day, he had it taped up and he was hobbling around, but he still played hard and well, and he showed he had toughness."

By now, most college coaches are familiar with Jacobsen's hard-nosed play for the Tigers (11-8, 4-2 in conference play), who lead the Big West's Western Division and are poised to make a run at defending their conference tournament title.

"He's been a tremendous force for Pacific for five years," said Bob Hawking, coach at Cal State Fullerton. "He's a winner and he contributes in any way he can."

Pepperdine Coach Lorenzo Romar added: "He's the kind of player you want on your side. If you're in a fox hole with just one other guy, he's the type of guy you want in there with you."

Jacobsen's performances have been well-documented. As a senior at Crescenta Valley, he averaged 27.1 points and finished his career with 387 three-point baskets, a state record at the time.

At Pacific, he made the All-Big West freshman team and as a sophomore and junior was chosen to the All-Big West second team. With two more three-point baskets, Jacobsen, 23, will become the Big West's all-time leader.

But his game is not one-dimensional.

"He does a great job defensively, especially denying people the ball," Thomason said. "He's one of our best passers. He's always a step ahead [mentally]."

*

Jacobsen received a slap in the face last season.

As Pacific rolled to a 24-5 record and earned its first NCAA tournament berth since 1979, he had to watch from the bench because of a knee injury that forced him to use a redshirt year.

"It was a great experience and I did what I could to help, but it still kind of burned deep down," said Jacobsen, who tore the medial collateral ligament and sprained the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

During a season in which his teammates won the conference tournament title before falling to St. Joseph's, 75-65, in the first round of the NCAA tournament, Jacobsen had knee surgery and started rehabilitation.

"Rehabbing the knee took a lot of my time," said Jacobsen, who earned a bachelor's degree in sports sciences last year and often put in 18-hour days. "I wasn't getting a lot of sleep. Between rehab, classes, practice, more rehab and studying, there wasn't time for anything else."

Jacobsen, who will earn his master's degree this year, appears to be fully recovered from his injury, Thomason said.

"When he first started playing with a brace, he wasn't as quick and there was an adjustment to not playing as good as he was used to," Thomason said. "Now he's looking like the old Adam Jacobsen."

*

Jacobsen averages 11.9 points, three assists and three rebounds. But his worth no longer is measured by statistics.

"He practices and plays hard every day, every game, every drill--he sets the standard," Thomason said. "When he first came here, he led by example. Now he is one of those players who has the ability to affect and improve others."

Teammates echo the coach's praise.

"If you want to talk about role models, he's one of the best," sophomore shooting guard Clay McKnight said. "He's a class act on and off the court. He motivates you to work hard. With Adam, it's really about work ethic."

Pacific's Michael Olowokandi, a 7-foot senior, is having the type of season that has NBA teams taking notice.

Jacobsen earned his respect long ago.

"He's the most unselfish player I've ever seen," said Olowokandi, who averages 20.3 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.7 blocks. "There are no ups and downs. . . . He's a complete player. I guarantee he'll do whatever it takes to win."

Jacobsen has played point guard in recent games.

Earlier this season, he hit seven of nine three-point shots and scored a career-high 31 points to help beat Fresno State, 85-74.

He made five of eight three-point shots in victories over Pepperdine, 78-65, and New Mexico State, 73-64.

Saturday against Fullerton, Jacobsen proved another point--he can contribute without putting up many shots. In an 86-68 Pacific victory, he took three shots, all from three-point range, and made one. He hit all five of his free throws. He had five assists, two steals and committed only two turnovers, even though Fullerton pressed for much of the game.

"He's been playing point, so his shots won't be of the same selection as when he's a [shooting guard]," Hawking said. "But he knows how to play the game. At point he's a catalyst and at two guard he's a finisher."

Romar said Jacobsen knows what it takes to win.

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