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Know! Your! Foe! - Brown.

For the third installment of the popular Know! Your! Foe! series, I exchanged emails with David "Bruno" Wise (pictured above), the biggest only Brown basketball fan I know. May his answers bring you insight about the Tigers' first Ivy foe of the season. This year's Bears have a 7-12 record, recently splitting their home-and-home series with Yale.

How did the Bears' non-conference performance exceeded your expectations from October? What do you wish had gone differently?

Brown played very well in my home of New York City. After a season-opening win at St. Francis (NY), they played a very good St. John's team tight for 40 minutes, and missed a game-tying three at the buzzer. The play of three freshmen had been the positive surprise of the pre-season, with Matt Sullivan, Tucker Halpern and Andrew McCarthy all stepping up and making significant contributions to each of Brown's six non-conference wins. On the flip side, the play from Adrian Williams has also been a surprise. He's a unique player for these Bears because he's one of the few players that can shoot from the outside as well as penetrate and draw defenders, but his shooting struggles have taken them out of a few games they should have had. Brown will not get on a roll if Williams isn't clicking on most, if not all, cylinders.

Senior forward Matt Mullery puts up big numbers (15.3 ppg / 5.8 rpg / 3.1 apg - shooting 56.5% from the floor) that are overshadowed this season by the likes of Jeremy Lin and Ryan Wittman. Tell me about the problems he presents opponents.

I think Matt is the most talented big man in the Ivies, and that statement is intended to include [Cornell center] Jeff Foote. It's his offensive and defensive versatility that tends to catch opponents off-guard. He had led the Bears in either scoring, rebounding, assists, steals or blocks in several games this season. He can shoot the three, post you up, drive by you, and feed it to a back-door cutter. He has better big man fundamentals than anyone in the Ivies has had in a long time; wonderful back to the basket moves, strong and crisp drop-steps, a right and left hand jump hook - the works. The offense runs through him; he touches the ball on most possessions, and a lot of times that's at the top of the key. On the defensive end, he's deceptive; while he's not particularly quick, strong or a great jumper, he is very quick off the floor and his timing and positioning on blocking shots is exceptional.

Three of Brown's top five scorers are freshmen. What can you share about the trio of Tucker Halpern, Andrew McCarthy and Matt Sullivan?

I like all three of these kids a lot. Halpern is a real favorite of mine because he actually wants the ball in crunch time - rare in a freshman. In several of Brown's close games, he's taken (and made) big shots down the stretch. He does a little of everything from shooting the three, to getting inside to pull-ups to getting steals and blocked shots to passing beautifully. He may have the most raw talent of any player on the team. But lately, he's taking too many threes, and he can't limit his game in that way if he's going to be consistently effective.

McCarthy is a hard-nosed player who isn't afraid of contact. He's got nice skills and touch down low, and has had some terrific performances against both strong and weak competition. He stepped in nicely for Mullery when he went down, and doesn't seem to get rattled very easily. A future All-Ivy big man.

Sullivan has by far the toughest job of any of the freshmen - to not only transition from high school to college basketball, but to a new position at point guard. Matt's handled it well, and has contributed both points and assists. He'll only get better at handling the ball and running the offense; he's not there yet, and he'll probably never be a natural point guard, but you can see how smart a player he is just by watching how he maintains composure and handles himself on the court.

I was surprised to see how poorly the Bears have rebounded. Does this surprise you as well?

This has surprised me a little bit. Brown has never been a strong rebounding team, but they run a pretty big lineup for the Ivies, with guys like Mullery and Peter Sullivan, and three freshmen who are all good-sized for their positions. What we don't have is a bruiser, a guy that can clear space in the middle. We also don't box out particularly well; we give up a lot of offensive rebounds to opponents, and a disproportionate number of those seem to come from opposing guards.

Princeton has lost their last four trips to Providence. What do the Bears need to do to make it five in a row?

I don't know Princeton well enough this season, but I know they're much better than they've been in recent years. But for Brown to beat any potential top-half Ivy, three things need to happen: Mullery needs to get the ball in some space, Brown needs to be crisp offensively, and has to shoot reasonably well from three. Brown plays an inside-out game, with some side-to-side, but it all starts with Mullery and being crisp with passes, cuts and picks that lead to open shots. Brown also needs Peter Sullivan back healthy from his ankle injury in the first Yale game. Princeton isn't a team that will kill Brown on the boards, but they're a tight defensive group, and Brown will have to really execute.

What has to happen for the Tigers to trump the Bears?

The Bears don't win when Mullery doesn't play (shoot, distribute) well. That's why he's the focus of so many opposing defenses. Brown doesn't gamble much on defense - they force very few turnovers - which means they stay at home on defense a lot and are less susceptible to some of the strengths of the Princeton offense. One way to offset that is with second chance points, and Princeton should uncharacteristically look to crash the offensive boards.

As someone who grew up in the Princeton area, two closing questions...

Any good Princeton basketball anecdotes you've always wanted to share with the Internet?

You mean like in my first televised game in high school (on CN8), playing for Princeton Day School when I dropped 16 and 7 on Princeton High in our annual cross-town matchup, and one of the announcers said I had a "good stroke"? Or like when I hit the game winner against defending champion Rutgers Prep (and future Brown star Brian Lloyd), and the headline in the Trenton Times was "PDS Gets Wise in Overtime"? You mean anecdotes like that?

In 9th grade (1989), I got to be a ball boy for a New York Knicks fantasy basketball camp in Atlantic City, and for whatever reason, Bob Scrabis and Kit Mueller were invited to participate, fresh off their near upset of Georgetown in the first round of the NCAAs. - I teamed with them for a 3-on-3 game and did not touch the ball once. Just went to show that once out of the confines of the Princeton offense, Princeton players aren't any different than the rest of us.

What's your favorite option at Hoagie Haven?

I'm a little unusual in this, but every time I go, I get the same thing: half of a tuna (the best tuna I've ever had), fries with saltpepperketchup, and butterscotch krumpets. One of my favorite meals whenever I'm home.

Thanks for your time, David! Hope to see you at Jadwin when the Bears visit in a couple weeks.

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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