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Know! Your! Foe! - Dartmouth.

After more than two consecutive months between home games versus Division I opponents, Princeton finally returns to Jadwin Gym to play contests of consequence. The first of these match-ups is with a young Dartmouth team full of players few reading have seen play in person previously.

To get answers about the quite green Big Green for today's Know! Your! Foe!, the only person to ask was writer Bruce Wood, founder of Big Green Alert, who has been covering Dartmouth athletics for as long as I can remember (and then a bit before that).

Our conversation follows after the jump. Look for a Harvard edition of K!Y!F! come Friday morning.

If you cover a team the Tigers will face down the line, let us know. We'd love to talk with you.

It is good to have you back on the site, Bruce. Despite a similar record to a year ago, what's different with Dartmouth for 2011-12?

This is a more competitive team that has had an injection of nice freshman talent, another year to get bigger and stronger, and perhaps most importantly a chance to adapt to Coach Paul Cormier's system. Although the record is indeed similar to a year ago, Dartmouth has been competitive in most games this season, starting with a 62-56 loss at Rutgers in the opener when it was within three points with the ball in the final minute. There have been a couple of losses by two points, a couple more by three points and one by four. Add it up and nine losses have been by six points or fewer.

The problem has been dry spells in the second half with no one player taking over the game when things are going south. They need a late-game leader.

Clearly the best performance of the year was a 62-54 win over Elon on Dec. 17 with freshman center Gabas Maldunas and freshman wing John Golden both posting double doubles.

There are six freshmen on the Big Green roster, three of whom who are among the team's leading six scorers. Who stands out to you and why?

Maldunas has the look of a classic Princeton center. He's fundamentally solid on the offensive end and while he hasn't taken many threes (he's just 1-for-4) he looks comfortable shooting out to the distance. He's also a pretty good passer. He's posted five double-figure rebound games and blocked 24 shots.

Jvonte Brooks is a 6'6" worker bee. He's not flashy and can force things occasionally, but he's been productive.

Golden is a 6'6" athlete who will remind those who remember a little bit of Dartmouth standout Shaun Gee. He has a good jumper with some quickness and a decent handle. He has shown the ability to get hot from outside but at times looks like a young colt champing at the bit to get more involved and will fight himself when things aren't going his way.

All three have had double-doubles this year with Maldunas doing it three times, Brooks twice and Golden once. Interestingly, they are the only double-doubles Dartmouth has had.

I know at the beginning of the season Coach Cormier mentioned throwing his young players out there early and often to see what he had. What has this meant for more familiar names like seniors David Rufful and Kirk Crecco?

Rufful started the first 15 games but has started just two of the last seven. He lost his starting spot after going 9-for-39 from the field over a six-game stretch. He came out of it a bit against Columbia, going 6-for-8 from the field and scoring 14 points in 19 minutes in the narrow loss.

Crecco had been seeing only spot duty since mid-December before getting 26 minutes and scoring 15 points against Cornell. Cormier will toss him out there and see if he's got anything on a particular night. If not, it's quickly back to the bench. He was active all over the court the last time out.

Jabari Trotter started most of the season before coming off the bench in three of the last four games and playing just 14 minutes in the lone start. He played 21 minutes the last time out against Cornell, his only game with more than 17 minutes in a month. He has the look of a senior who has battled knee problems and is wearing down.

With the handwriting from this season on the wall, Cormier appears to have shuffled his seniors around a bit over the past two weeks both to trying something new that might shake the team out of its doldrums, but also to begin the transition to next year. He hasn't said that, and probably wouldn't, but to someone who has watched them for a few years, it has that feel.

Dartmouth is near the bottom of DI in FG%, 2PT FG% and Offensive Rebound %. What are the team's offensive issues?

Apart from Maldunas, there's not much of an inside presence at all. Outside, Jabari Trotter, RJ Griffin and Crecco are the biggest threats with Golden and Rufful able to head up. Griffin probably hasn't had the kind of year many expected even though he leads the team in three point shooting. No one will really scare you from outside.

Conversely, what do the Big Green do well?

Tyler Melville, a name familiar to Princetonians [he's Randy Melville's son - JS], has been a great story over the second half of the season. Buried on the bench early, he's averaged about 26 minutes a game at the point while starting the last five games. He's not a shooter but he's quick and deceptive enough with the ball to get into the paint time and time again. Passing, however, is not a strength. While he can drive he doesn't dish, posting just two assists while making 13 turnover over those five starts.

The Big Green isn't afraid to run the floor and has been doing a better job of rebounding than it has in the past.

How close is this team to taking a step up from the Ivy cellar?

Not far. With this year's freshman class gaining experience, and another well-thought-of group of freshmen coming in next year (led by a New Jersey point guard they are excited about) Dartmouth should get out of the basement next winter. Another year after that the Big Green should be ready to bid for an upper division finish but there's still a need for that one standout player who will lead them.

Fill in some blanks for me: Dartmouth picks up their first conference win if...

Two of the following get hot outside (Griffin, Trotter, Golden, Rufful) and they avoid the second-half troubles, particularly in the final five minutes when the collar has gotten a bit tight.

Princeton gets even in Ivy play if...

Dartmouth doesn't get out on the 3-point shooters and starts hanging its heads when the dry spell comes in the second half, as it surely will. A quick start for Princeton would do the trick as well.

Thanks for your time, Bruce. I've always had a great deal of respect for what you do. Look forward to comparing notes in Hanover in a couple weeks!

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