What does JTIII’s firing mean for George Mason and area recruiting?

GettyImages-632411596I was in the group that thought Georgetown would never fire John Thompson III, so yesterday was surprising. It’s a move that will impact DC area college basketball, especially on the recruiting scene. What does this mean for George Mason basketball and head coach Dave Paulsen? Mason has already had an uphill battle trying to get local recruits and now a new head coach in town could change the landscape a bit. Despite the program’s lack of recent success, Georgetown was still landing a lot of top local talent in the area. Will that continue with a new coach? That depends largely on the who they hire.

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Dave Paulsen installs his ‘Burn Your Boats’ vision at George Mason


Marquise Moore was interviewed last week by the American Sports Network to discuss his Atlantic 10 player of year week award, the team’s current winning streak, and the program’s first ever triple-double. But I think the most interesting part of the interview was when Moore was asked if the team had any mottos or fun slogans. His response was a quote that Dave Paulsen uses “burn your boats”, that essentially stands for a team being ‘all in’ and like soldiers against great odds, never retreating. You can hear Moore talk about it at the 3:43 mark of the video below:

The motto and vision for the program dates back to Paulsen’s earlier coaching days at Bucknell. This is from a 2010 practice:

“Paulsen basically had to get it through to his guys that no one is going to help them. They had to show up Wednesday, leaving everything they have on shore and protect their house.

Burn your boats, boys.

We’re not leaving until we get this done one way or another. We’re either going to carry the day, or we’re going down swinging.”

I reached out to Paulsen about the motto and he said basically it’s a “historical reference to an “all in” mentality – can’t have one foot on land, one foot in water ready to retreat when times are tough, you’re not playing as much as you’d like, don’t like your role etc. One of single biggest challenges as coach is to get total buy in.”

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Season Preview: The Year of Small Ball


Year two for Dave Paulsen and George Mason begins with higher hopes than the last couple of seasons. Wins over Ole Miss, Oklahoma State, Davidson, and VCU showed to the fan base that this program was moving in the right direction. Paulsen had the daunting task of installing his new culture into the program and cleaning up all the unforced errors we grew accustomed to seeing. We saw a team last year that fouled less and rebounded the ball well. It was clear at the end of the season that the team was practicing and playing hard but just kept falling short. Inexperience was a big issue last season, some freshmen were playing who probably weren’t ready but with the teams lack of depth there was no choice.

Now they enter 2016-17 with a more seasoned group and a proven new leader in Otis Livingston II. There are some new faces, some of whom will have an immediate impact, and definitely make this team tougher on the wings. And don’t be surprised to see an offense that runs a heck of a lot smoother. Yes, it is the ‘The Year of Small Ball’ but that’s not a bad thing. Let’s take a look at some of the key issues heading into this season for Mason using some quotes from Paulsen from this year’s Blue Ribbon Yearbook.

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George Mason extends Dave Paulsen through 2021


Some good summer news to post, George Mason has extended head coach Dave Paulsen’s contract through 2021. A move that clearly shows the confidence athletic director Brad Edwards has in Paulsen’s direction, even after just one season. The move shows me that Paulsen has already exceeded early expectations of most and given the magnitude of the rebuilding project he took on here it’s well deserved. It’s also a strong move by the university to put of a stamp on the fact that “this is our guy” for our men’s basketball program. All that being said, Paulsen still has his work cut out of him making this team a contender in the Atlantic 10.

[Photo by Bill Bride]