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Know! Your! Foe! - Brown.

Brown on the schedule means the pleasure of exchanging Know! Your! Foe! emails with David "Bruno" Wise (pictured above), still the number one lone Brown basketball fan in my address book. There isn't anyone else I'd want to be discussing Friday's game with and David provides necessary insight into the Bears under first year head coach Mike Martin.

A Yale edition of K!Y!F! will run tomorrow on the site.

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

Hello again, sir. I would imagine you're feeling pretty positively about Brown overall after a 2-2 open to their Ivy campaign, especially with both losses coming in overtime!

Yes, I think most fans are feeling pretty happy. It’s been a much stronger opening to the Ivy season than many of us had the right to expect. The boys have played very hard and effectively.

As an aside, what the heck happened in the last 12 minutes at Harvard on Saturday? I went to the media room with the game well in-hand for the Crimson and when I returned to press row I was shocked to see the word "overtime" on my laptop's screen.

I actually don’t know. I turned it off literally the moment Harvard went up 22. Shame on me, because I returned to find Brown within five, and watched as they tied it at the buzzer. So, I am guessing this was just me.

I also imagine you're excited to talk about the difference in this team under first year coach Mike Martin as compared to how they were performing for Jesse Agel!

I really could not stand that guy as our coach. Honestly. But Martin has instilled a very different feel into this team. Three things in particular stand out.

First, it took most of the non-conference season, but this team has become hard-nosed defensively – that’s something you haven’t been able to say about any Brown team in the last decade.

Second, this team has found some heart and plays hard – they’ve come back from the dead in a few big games this season (Providence, Niagara and Harvard), and never stop plugging. The boys never played this hard for Jesse Agel, and certainly never defended for him.

Lastly, Mike lets players play to their strengths on offense, which – for the makup of this team – is shooting it. The offense is built to encourage a lot of three point shots, and Brown has players that can hit those. We don’t shoot it incredibly well, but we shoot and make enough of them to make us dangerous and open up the middle for Rafa Maia and Cedric Kuakumensah to go to work.

Before we get into breaking down the Bears, where does the home win over Providence rank among the school's non-conference victories? How much do you think that helps raise the profile on the team in New England and beyond?

The Providence win is one of my top Brown fan wins all-time. What was so special about it was the fact that is was Brown’s first home game vs. Providence in over 30 years, and also how Brown won it, coming back from being down 67-60 with less than a minute to go. A big outcome for Brown, but I won’t suggest that beating PC once every seven years does much in the annals of New England basketball.

Brown was a VERY BAD defensive squad last year (304th nationally). They're much-improved for 2012-13 (up to 168th overall). Is that due to effort, scheme, personnel or some other mitigating factor I might have omitted?

Most of the defensive improvement took a while to come together. Brown was actually pretty poor defensively the first half of our season, but starting with the Providence win and the eight games that followed, our defensive results have been really very strong. I’ve asked a player about this transformation, and the sense is that it results from players finally "getting" what Martin has been trying to do defensively. Somewhere along the line something clicked, and you’re seeing better defensive rotation overall and more jamming of the ball-handler.

(I still wouldn’t mind a few more steals leading to easy buckets though.)

Sophomore big Rafael Maia didn't play last season but I remember hearing back channel that he could be both an important and different sort of player for the Bears. Sounds like he's a beast on the boards but that free throw percentage (47.1%) is an eye-opening Achilles' Heel!

Rafa has tried a number of different ways of shooting the ball, and none of them have worked well. But he’s not alone in this – FT shooting is a weakness for this whole squad, for whatever reason. Take nothing away from Maia – he is relentless underneath on the offensive boards and in going after balls down low, and has a very solid back to the basket skillset. I really think he will become one of the top big men in the league, if he isn’t there already. He’s made a huge difference.

Both Sean McGonagill (92.3%) and Matt Sullivan (92.8%) rarely leave the floor. Is that due more to their importance to Brown or because the Bears have a smaller roster than most college teams?


Stephen Albrecht returned to the court in mid-January. What does he add to the mix?

I can’t say enough about what Albrecht brings, even in limited minutes. He stretches the defense in a way nobody else can, because his range is from five feet out from the three-point line. He also plays with a nice energy and a certain toughness and fearlessness. He’s still limited by back problems, and my sense is that his return to the squad was more out of necessity and commitment than medical advice, but he played 32 minutes in the OT game vs. Harvard and looked pretty spry. I think his return gives Brown a really important added dimension. He can score on anybody.

Brown goes to 3-2 in Ivy play with a win at Jadwin if...

...the 3-pointer / Maia combination is working as it’s designed to, and if Princeton’s 3-pointer / Hummer combination isn’t.

Princeton wins their 21st conference game at home in a row (I'm sure you remember the last loss) if...

...see above. Reverse it.

Anything you want to add before we wrap things up?

McGonagill and Sullivan have emerged as the team’s two best players and leaders, and Tucker Halpern can get very hot (as he did vs. Providence). McGonagill in particular has been so tough of late, and he and Halpern are two guys who can have games above and beyond the game plan that could turn an upset. These two really can be very dangerous.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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