Welcome to A10 Talk’s Top 14 Coach Countdown of the 2016-17 season. We like to rank the players of the A-10 each season, but we’d also like to take a look at the brains of the operations. Who were the best coaches of the 2016-17 season? Who were the worst? Our site voted and compiled a list based on last season alone. This list is representative of how well each coach performed in the 2016-17 season, not in his entire career. Today, we feature #5 Dave Paulsen.
1. Win at Penn State
Probably George Mason’s best win of the season, the Patriots went on the road and took down a Big Ten team with ease. Pauline’s second half game plan worked beautifully, shutting down the Nittany Lions and securing a big win away from home. Dave Paulsen’s squad showed the ability to pay tough defense in a hostile environment, which was exactly the confidence-booster this team needed. George Mason ended up exceeding expectations in non-conference play, and this was a big reason why.
2. First ever A-10 Tournament victory
Credit Dave Paulsen for rallying his troops and securing this win, considering it looked like the Patriots were bound to fall to Fordham. An inspired comeback in the final minute was led by Marquise Moore and company, and Paulsen’s squad never panicked. Securing this A-10 Tournament victory was big for a program that hasn’t found a lot of success in the Atlantic 10. With the right coaching moving forward, there’s a good chance George Mason wins multiple A-10 Tournament games in the coming seasons.
1. Home loss to Mount St. Mary’s
There wasn’t much to be said about this loss, other than the fact that it was really bad. George Mason’s season looked like it was heading for the gutter after this defeat, but Dave Paulsen rallied the troops and bounced back. Unable to close over the 209th best team in the nation according to Kenpom was disheartening, but Mason fans forgot about this loss quickly as the Patriots proceeded to rattle off 9 straight wins following a loss to Houston.
2. Season-ending loss to Loyola (MD)
After a season with so many highs for the Patriots, their 2016-17 campaign came to an abrupt close, with a disappointing loss to Loyola (MD) in the opening round of the CBI. The tournament appeared wide open for Mason to at least make the semifinals of the CBI, yet it was evident from the opening tip that the Patriots’ hearts just weren’t in this one. The game was never really close, and George Mason ended up falling 73-58.
George Mason won’t be the same without Marquise Moore, but young talent as well as rising juniors Otis Livingston II and Jaire Grayer have the program moving in the right direction. In a wide-open Atlantic 10, it’s unclear just how far this team can go; Dave Paulsen is going to have a lot of weight on his shoulders, trying to meet or exceed last year’s 7th place finish in the league. I’d expect good things from Mason in coming seasons.
Previously: #6 Mark Schmidt