George Mason names Dave Paulsen men’s basketball coach
In Paulsen’s seven-year tenure at Bucknell, the Bison became the first team in Patriot League history to record three straight regular season titles, having amassed four outright regular season championships in the last five years. He has led the Bison to four postseason berths — two NCAA appearances and two NITs – during that span.
“Dave Paulsen is a proven winner and an outstanding basketball mind,” said Director of Athletics Brad Edwards. “Over the past five seasons he has led his teams to four post-season appearances, including two NCAA tournament bids. He is a well-respected recruiter and developer of talent, playing a pivotal role of the development of a dynamic current NBA player. Combine all that with his superb academic pedigree, and we have a coach who is a perfect fit to execute our vision for a sustainable elite basketball program.”
Paulsen’s 134 victories are third-most all-time in Bucknell history, behind only Charlie Woollum (318) and Pat Flannery (234), and Paulsen’s .590 (134-94) winning percentage is the highest in program history among coaches with 40 or more games. In a three-year period culminating in 2013 the Bison earned a program –topping 78 wins, including a school-record 28 victories (28-6) in 2012-13.
In 2013 Bucknell was awarded a No. 11 seed at the NCAAs, the second-highest seed in program history.
“I’m tremendously excited and appreciative of the opportunity to coach at George Mason University, where excellence is the emphasis both on the court and in the classroom,” Paulsen said. “President Angel Cabrera and Athletic Director Brad Edwards have an impressive vision for the program. I look forward to getting to work with current players and the incoming freshmen and building a foundation for success.”
The 2015 Patriot League Coach of the Year guided a young Bucknell squad to a 13-5 record and a first-place finish in the conference this season, earning an automatic bid to the NIT for the second time. In 2012 the Bison upset top-seeded Arizona on the road before falling at Nevada.
Paulsen won the 2011 and 2012 Patriot League Coach of the Year awards, making him only the third coach in league history to receive the honor in consecutive years. He was also named the 2013 NABC Co-District 13 Coach of the Year alongside Harvard’s Tommy Amaker.
During Paulsen’s tutelage, the Bison recorded six Academic All-Patriot League honors, three Academic All-District II recognitions and one Academic All-American in the last five years.
He has been named as one of 16 finalists for the 2015 Skip Prosser Man of the Year Award, presented annually by CollegeInsider.com to those who not only achieve success on the basketball court but who also display moral integrity off the court.
Paulsen, a two-time National Coach of the Year who led Williams College to the 2003 Division III national championship, was named the head men’s basketball coach at Bucknell on May 20, 2008.
Paulsen’s initial Bucknell recruiting class resulted in a record three Patriot League All-Rookie honorees in Bryson Johnson, Mike Muscala and Joe Willman. Muscala developed into a two-time Patriot League Player of the Year, an All-American and an NBA Draft selection, and last winter Muscala became Bucknell’s very first NBA player when he suited up with the Atlanta Hawks. Meanwhile, Johnson and Willman both became All-Patriot Leaguers and 1,000-point scorers before embarking on professional careers overseas.
A year later, Paulsen recruited another eventual Patriot League Player of the Year in Cameron Ayers, who became a key player on two NCAA Tournament teams.
Paulsen, a 1987 Williams graduate and a Phi Beta Kappa scholar, has coached at every level of college basketball during the past two decades and is considered a highly sought-after consultant on the principles of the motion offense.
Prior to Bucknell, Paulsen guided Williams College to a 170-53 (.762) record in his eight seasons, where the Ephs captured the 2003 national championship and were the national runner-up in 2004. Paulsen was named the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Coach of the Year in both 2003 and 2004; his teams won three NESCAC championships (2003, 2004, 2007) and made four NCAA Tournament appearances (2002, 2003, 2004, 2007). He was a three-time NESCAC Coach of the Year and two-time New England Coach of the Year.
Prior to his tenure at Williams, Paulsen served as head coach at Le Moyne and at St. Lawrence, where the Saints made back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances, and he was twice named the Upstate Collegiate Athletic Association Coach of the Year.
From 1990-94, Paulsen was the senior assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Cleveland State, helping the Vikings to a 22-6 record (15-1 Mid-Continent Conference) in 1992-93.
In 1989-90, Paulsen served as the graduate assistant coach on Steve Fisher’s staff at Michigan. Paulsen was part of a Wolverines program that went 23-8 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, and he had the opportunity to coach six players who would later become NBA draft picks.
Paulsen graduated from Williams College cum laude with departmental honors in history and completed his master’s degree in history at Michigan. He was also a member of the Ephs’ varsity basketball team. In 1987, his squad captured the ECAC New England Division III championship.
Paulsen and his wife, Kathy, have three daughters: Claire (20), Sara (16) and Molly (13).