Colin Healy ‘25
Following a multi-week national search, Dave Paulsen was named the 19th head coach in Holy Cross Men’s Basketball history on March 28. Rumored to be a leading candidate for the job during the search process, Athletic Director Kit Hughes officially tabbed Paulsen as head coach 18 days after relieving Brett Nelson of head coaching duties. Paulsen will be tasked with engineering a rebuild of the men’s basketball program which has struggled mightily in recent years.
Coming in with 13 seasons of head coaching experience at the D1 level, Paulsen is a veteran coach who is no stranger to the Patriot League. From 2008 to 2015, he was the head coach at Bucknell, where he enjoyed a number of successes. Under Paulsen, the Bison captured two League championships while also appearing in the National Invitational Tournament twice. In this time, Paulsen was named Patriot League Coach of the Year three times, and recruited and coached current NBA center Mike Muscala.
After leaving Bucknell, Paulsen spent six years as head coach at George Mason. He arrives in Worcester having spent the last two seasons as an assistant at Fordham.
Paulsen was formally introduced as head coach during a press conference on March 30. During opening remarks, AD Hughes shared why Dave Paulsen was and is the perfect fit for HC MBB.
“I’ve been taught that often the best predictor of future success is indeed past success, and we looked for someone with a demonstrated track record of successfully building both championship programs and championship-caliber people,” Hughes said. “He not only met every criteria that we established, but he exceeded them. He is exactly what is needed at this moment in our history as a program.”
Taking his turn at the mic, Paulsen had nothing but glowing praise for the storied past of the men’s basketball program. He mentioned how he had just met Bob Cousy ‘50 at the Crusader legend’s house in Worcester. The meeting helped Paulsen realize the magnitude of the program and his new position as head coach.
“I think Holy Cross has distinguished itself as a place that’s about excellence, and we want our men’s basketball program to have that same quest for excellence,” Paulsen said.
Commenting on the type of teams he wants to lead, Paulsen emphasized how the Crusaders will hustle and outwork opponents. He explained that playing for Holy Cross will be the most motivating factor for peak performance.
“It’s going to be about playing for the name on the front of the jersey every single day. It’s going to be about playing with toughness and grit and resilience, and yet joy.”
Admitting that joy has been lacking around the program for some time now, Paulsen assured fans and alumni that he will work to restore the joy that so rightly belongs at the Hart Center.
Though subtle, the vibe in the room for Paulsen’s introduction was palpably positive. Walking into a program that has gone nine years without a winning season is no easy task, yet Paulsen’s comments were highly motivated and eager. Everything he had to say about Holy Cross and the men’s team stirred up sentiment that he is the right guy to turn the program around.
Paulsen established the standards he will hold the team to during their campaigns. His goal is to get the team to a level worthy of competing on all stages, and soon.
“Make no mistake about it, we want to win Patriot League championships,” he said. “We want to be regionally relevant. We want to be nationally relevant.”
That’s music to the ears of Crusader fans everywhere. Paulsen had all the right things to say. He seemed to wish the season started yesterday.
We’ll have to wait until November for that, but Paulsen has already planted seeds for a renaissance of HC men’s basketball. He knows what the Hart Center should look like on the court and in the stands, and he’s committed to being the catalyst that will raise the program to new levels. All signs indicate that joy will be surrounding the Hart Center very soon.
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