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Know! Your! Foe! - Brown.

For the opening Ivy installment of the popular Know! Your! Foe! series this season, I again exchanged emails with David "Bruno" Wise (pictured above), the biggest only Brown basketball fan I know. May his answers provide you insight about the Tigers' first conference foe. This year's Bears have a 7-9 record, recently dropping both sides of their home-and-home series with Yale.

Last year's loss to Brown was a major setback for the Tigers' title aspirations. How different are the 2010-11 Bears from the team that captured a 57-54 win at Jadwin?

It’s a pretty different team. On offense, last year’s team ran inside-out, with our All-Ivy center Matt Mullery getting the first touch in the post most of the time. This year is much more outside-in. The Bears very rarely get the ball into the post, and the Freshman point guard Sean McGonagill has the ball most of the time.  And these Bears actually rebound pretty well by committee, which no Brown team has done for a while.

It looks like the Bears take good care of the ball but struggle to force TOs and aren't grabbing a lot of offensive boards. A fair overview?

Spot on. I believe this is part of the Jesse Agel philosophy. Brown doesn’t take risks – they don’t actively go for steals or many offensive boards. I’m still struggling to understand how a team wins in this league if they can’t create any easy opportunities for themselves. Still, the defensive results – in shooting, PPG and rebounds – are significantly improved from last year, despite losing our all-time leading shot-blocker in Mullery.

Conversely, what does the team do well besides free throw shooting?

Have I mentioned their shooting of foul shots? Beyond that, there’s nothing they do particularly well, but compared to last year, the offensive movement is better overall. Attribute that to the role of McGonagill, who is a true pure point guard that makes the offense go.

How difficult has it been for Brown to replace Matt Mullery?

Not as difficult as any of us thought. Despite his loss, Brown’s defensive numbers are all improved, and the offense is actually generating more points, albeit at a lower shooting percentage. Overall, I’d say the offense runs better, and is more fun to watch. The biggest challenge losing Mullery has been being susceptible to a domineering opposing big man. Neither Tucker Halpern, Andrew McCarthy nor Tyler Ponticelli are classic big men, and while McCarthy blocks some shots, that group struggled defensively. Only the recent emergence of the raw freshman Dockery Walker gives me some hope for some legitimate presence in the post this season. Over the last six games or so, Brown fans have learned how our complexion changes when we have a legitimate athletic presence down low, and raw as he is, Walker can become a difference-maker in any game.

Is Peter Sullivan the key to this year's Brown squad? I see he's up to 13th in scoring all-time at Brown.

Peter is certainly a key component and the team’s leader, but after three-plus years of his contributions, we pretty much know what we’re going to get from Peter, which is solid, timely shooting, some rebounding, and some defense. There are times he carries the team, but I’ve seen losses when he’s played well, and wins when he hasn’t. This team wins – and loses - by committee.

Last time we talked you called sophomore forward Andrew McCarthy a "future All-Ivy big man." Have your feelings towards him changed at all?

Shutup Jon.

This will be my first chance to see McGonagill, who leads the team in assists with 78 and is third in the Ivy in total assists. Tell me about his contributions.

I think you’ll recognize McGonagill as the best pure point Brown has had since Mike Waitkus ’86, in that he’s a pass-first ball distributor who can penetrate, handle the ball, and find the open man. He’s struggled with turnovers, but that’s been due more to his teammates not always keeping up with him and some carelessness. Overall, his composure and ability to keep the court balanced is remarkable for a freshman. (Jason Forte may have been our most talented point guard, but he wasn’t what I’d call pass-first.)

What do the Bears need to do to grab their first Ivy victory on Friday?

After seeing what Princeton did to the stalwart TCNJ, I’m not sure anyone feels Princeton will lose to anyone, let alone Brown. (Zing!) But I think this is a very tough matchup for Brown, in part because of how unique this Tiger team is. Unlike Tiger teams of the past (that Brown has competed pretty well against), this team actually rebounds and scores the ball at a high clip, and like previous teams, they shoot the three well. They’re also so well-balanced, and there’s no one or two guys Brown can key on. So, I think that Brown’s got to win this one with offense by being very aggressive with drives, moving the ball well, getting to the line, and getting a little lucky with their threes. And, someone from Brown’s got to get hot. That’s the only way I see this one getting close. Either way, this could be one of the higher scoring Brown-Princeton games in recent history.

Princeton starts Ivy action with a win if...

They do what they do, and don’t let anyone from Brown get real hot. Halpern can be like the Microwave, and Garrett Leffelman had something like 15 points in five minutes vs. Providence College. If either guy gets loose, Brown becomes dangerous.

Thanks for your time, David! Hope our paths cross again soon.

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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