The Basketball Podcast: E01 with Coach Dave Paulsen on Game Preparation

RELEASE DATE : 05/09/2018

In this week’s basketball coaching conversation, we are joined by Dave Paulsen. Coach Paulsen is the former head coach of the George Mason University men’s basketball program. Dave Paulsen discussed ideas for preparing for a game. Game week, game day, practice, opponent scout, self-scout, and other ideas about coaching basketball, and running a basketball program, are discussed and shared to stimulate your thinking.

Dave Paulsen was formerly the head men’s basketball coach at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. He was previously the head coach at Bucknell University for seven seasons. Prior to Bucknell, he spent eight years as the head coach at his alma mater, Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, and also coached at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, and Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York.

At Williams College, Paulsen won the NCAA Division III title in 2003, and finished as national runner up in 2004. Paulsen was twice named Division III Coach of the Year during his time at Williams. On May 20, 2008, Paulsen was hired as head coach at Bucknell. Paulsen led the Bison to a disappointing 7–23 record in his first year at Bucknell. This constituted the school’s worst winning percentage (.233) since the 1971–72 when the Bison posted a mark of 5–18 (.217). In his second year, the Bison improved to 12-17, including a 9-5 record in Patriot League play. In his third year, Paulsen was named Patriot League Coach of the Year en route to leading his team to a 25-8 record heading into the NCAA tournament, including a 13-1 record in the Patriot League, culminating in both the regular season and Patriot League tournament championships. During his time at Bucknell, Paulsen recruited and coached future NBA player, Mike Muscala.

“The game has to look like our practice and not their practice.” – Dave Paulsen 

Dave Paulsen Basketball Offensive and Defensive Absolutes


  • Nothing in transition.
  • No shots deep paint.
  • No rhythm 3’s for 3-point shooters.
  • No second shots.
  • No fouls.


  • No bad shots.
  • No turnovers.
  • No emotional baggage.

Listen Here:

Dave Paulsen Breakdown:

1:00 – Do previous games dictate your preparation going into the next game

4:00 – Importance of process

6:00 – Actions to prepare for future opponents

8:00 – Scouting opponents

10:00 – Practicing scout vs. a live defense

13:00 – D.O.D and O.D.O trips

15:00 – Players being more competitive than coaches

18:00 – Practice preparations to develop team strengths and weaknesses

20:00 – Fun and intense practices

22:00 – Practice duration vs intensity

24:00 – Focus on recovery and regeneration

26:00 – Do you care about opponent play calls?

29:00 – Part whole part concept

31:00 – Group or individual film sessions

36:00 – What stats drive game preparation?

40:00 – George Mason offensive and defensive absolutes

41:40 – Dealing with emotional baggage during the game

Dave Paulsen Links:



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