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Know! Your! Foe! - UNC Greensboro.

For the second installment of the popular Know! Your! Foe! series, I exchanged emails with Brad from the self-explanatory blog UNCG Basketball Fan. Brad was kind enough to answer my many questions about Princeton's next opponent - the University of North Carolina Greensboro Spartans.

How does this year's UNC Greensboro team differ from the one that visited Jadwin Gym last season?

This team really doesn't resemble the one that played Princeton last season. Even though there were no seniors on the roster, UNCG lost three players in the off season to transfer. However, they have been replaced by freshmen that are very talented. ECU transfer Brandon Evans is also eligible after sitting out last year. So, basically the entire UNCG back court rotation is different from last season.

The Spartans are coming off a 67-64 Southern Conference loss to the College of Charleston on Monday night. UNCG had two chances to tie in the final 13 seconds. Tell me about the game.

I hate to admit that this game wasn't quite as close as the score would make it seem. UNCG had two chances to tie, but that was only after a furious comeback over the last few minutes. Charleston led by 8-10 points through most of the game. With about 6 minutes to go, UNCG went to a half court trapping defense and Charleston looked stunned. They turned it over on something like six of their next eight possessions and let the Spartans trim a 13 point deficit down to three. Both shots to tie were pretty good looks taken by good shooters. They just didn't fall.

Greensboro outrebounded CoC by 20 (49-29). How in/out of character was this performance on the glass?

Well this particular rebound effort was extraordinary. However, the Spartans have been doing a very good job job on the boards all year. Even though they have been undersized in every game (minus maybe Samford), only Duke has dominated the Spartans on the glass. The main reason for this is that UNCG guards are going for rebounds a lot harder than recent years. Also, power forward Ben Stywall's 6'-5" frame seems to fool opponents into thinking he's too small to rebound. However, he just seems to be in the right position every time.

While 2-5 so far this season, Greensboro has played a very tough non-conference schedule, starting their season at Duke, at Virginia Tech and opening their new arena against Clemson. How has the team exceeded your expectations and how has the team struggled in areas you did not expect?

This team has played better than most of fans would have expected. Granted, when you go 5-25, there's really not many expectations. However, this team has had some success in the really tough schedule. It took a late run for Virginia Tech to defeat the Spartans. In six of the seven games (Va Tech excluded), UNCG has gone on big second half runs. Last year's team had a problem with hanging their heads when facing a big deficit. It's good to see it's not a problem this year.

This team has really struggled at getting off to good starts. Other than the two wins, UNCG seems to dig itself big holes right off the bat. I'm not sure if it's nerves or inexperience, but for some reason the Spartans just can't seem to make a basket the first five minutes of games.

Last year UNCG struggled to a 5-25 record. How has the team improved from a year ago?

The guard play is light years ahead of where it was all last season. Last year, UNCG lacked a guard that could drive to the basket or a PG that could score when left open. All three new guards (Evans, Kyle Randall & Korey VanDussen) have the ability to not only hit open shots, but to score 15+ points a night if needed. Also, several role players (Pete Brown & Kendall Toney) have stepped up and taking leadership roles.

What do the Spartans need to do to beat Princeton?

It's funny how my answer to the next two questions is the exact same. UNCG just needs to hit shots. Both of the Spartans wins have came on good shooting nights. Unfortunately, the Spartans haven't shot the ball particularly well at home. When playing a team like Princeton, it's important to make every possession count. I don't think UNCG can shoot less than 40% and have any chance to win.

What needs to happen for the Tigers to defeat UNC Greensboro?

Again, hit shots. UNCG will probably use a similar strategy to the one they used against Samford. Which means a combination of 2-3 and 1-3-1 zone. The strategy worked because Samford couldn't make enough three point attempts to force Coach Dement out of the zone. If Princeton can hit enough threes to force UNCG into going to the man-to-man defense, the Tigers will probably have success against the young Spartan guards.

The Spartans are still looking for their first win in their new building. How is the Greensboro Coliseum?

Wow. It's been an awesome experience for the UNCG fans who have been on board with the program for a while. Coliseum officials are really pulling out all of the stops with promotions to make this move work. The move was the first major decision by Dr. Linda Brady when she became chancellor last fall. She basically has made men's basketball our new athletic flagship (previously soccer). There are a lot of positives so far. UNCG sold over 1,300 season tickets this year. Last year, I believe they sold 300-400. Also, it seems to be helping with recruiting as G has signed four players for next season. The big problem now is wins. It seems like the players haven't became comfortable playing the building yet. That should get better with time.

Greensboro recently played Samford, a team that runs several "Princeton" sets, and UNCG recorded their biggest win over a DI school in program history, a 73-40 rout. It was a close game before a 40-9 run. What went right this time out?

It was the "perfect storm" for UNCG. The Spartans led by 4 early in the second half when they hit a three pointer, got a steal and then a three point play. After that Samford really just seemed to hang their heads and quit. The Spartans spent the rest of the game in a 2-3 zone and Samford was content to just shoot (and miss) three. Add that to the fact that UNCG was really shooting well and you can see the results.

Thanks for your time, Brad! Princeton and UNC Greensboro tip off at 1:00 pm ET on Sunday afternoon in North Carolina. If you cover a team the Tigers will face down the line, let us know. We'd love to talk with you.

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