Bucknell Basketball’s Paulsen on Principle-Driven Team Building

NCAA Division I, Mike Muscala, Communication


Big league college basketball is in focus this week on Sports Coach Radio. We’re joined by Dave Paulsen, head coach of the Bucknell University men’s team. Dave is an inspiring member of a younger generation of emotionally intelligent basketball coaches who achieve great results with today’s somewhat more demanding young athletes.
Sports Coach Radio is hosted by Glenn Whitney, a coaching and leadership psychologist. You can follow us on Twitter, where we post useful articles and coaching tips just about every day of the week. The handle is @sportscoachtalk. And we’d be grateful if you’d leave a short review of the show on the Apple iTunes page.

Dave Paulsen has steadily worked his way up the coaching ranks, spending his first 14 years as a head coach with NC double A Division II and III schools. His most successful stint was at his alma mater, Williams, the elite “Little Ivy” college in north western Massachusetts. He posted a 76 per cent winning record during six seasons at Williams.
Dave_Paulsen_standingDave moved up to Division I Bucknell, in central Pennsylvania, in 2008. There he experienced a first season best characterized as “challenging” – winning 7 and losing 23. Since then it’s been onward and upward: a 14 and 17 record in 2009-10, 25 and 9 in 2010-11, 25 and 10 in 2011-12, reaching the second round of the NCAA Tournament and this past season, the record in the history of the school 28 and 5 when Bucknell again reached the second round of the tournament. If this rate of improvement continues, we’re going to hear quite a lot about Dave Paulsen over the coming years. He was jointly named the National Association of Basketball Coaches District 13 Coach of the Year.

We caught up with him the other day en route to his daughter’s lacrosse game. Now normally we say don’t drive and philosophize about coaching at at the same time, but Dave does rather a good job at it.
– Respect needed for the coach more than liking
– Primacy of the team will always win out over the individual
– “The longer I coach the more important values become.”
– Bucknell Basketball Core Values: Passion, Talk, Toughness & Focus
– Compel them to communicate, if not punish them
– On verbal and physical coaching abuse at Rutgers: “Shocking”