BY DOMENIC ALLEGRA SPORTS EDITOR
On Friday, men’s basketball fell to Davidson, 99-67, ending the Patriots’ season in Richmond.
“Obviously a really disappointing way to end the year. There were mistakes that we made defensively, but I think a lot of it was Davidson played great,” head coach Dave Paulsen said. “This leaves a bitter taste in our mouth in what was really a remarkable last month with our group, and really just a remarkable effort by these guys — to follow all the protocols and to be able to play basketball, it’s just a hard way to end.”
This tournament loss marks the 10th consecutive year without a tournament appearance for the Patriots, the longest drought since joining the CAA in 1985.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
POSTSEASON STRUGGLES CONTINUE
In the last four quarterfinal matchups, Mason has lost by double digits in each one. In 2017, Mason lost to VCU, 71-60. In 2018, Mason lost to St. Joe’s, 68-49. In 2019, Mason lost to St. Bonaventure, 68-57. On Friday, the Patriots fell to Davidson, 99-67.
“It’s just a matter of continuing to make the progress that we’ve been making, accelerate that progress. And a lot of guys, who are very young, played very well yesterday in a really hard-fought victory,” Paulsen said. “A lot of those same guys who are very young didn’t play as well tonight. So, going through those battles, hopefully they’ll be more tested and ready to go next year.”
The Patriots have hit a wall every time they have reached the quarterfinals and have not reached the semifinals since they joined the Atlantic 10 in 2013. In comparison, Davidson, which joined in 2014 and has a similar program to Mason, has made it to the semifinals every single year since they joined.
PAULSEN ON THE HOT SEAT
With the conclusion of the 2020-2021 season, head coach Dave Paulsen heads into the last year of his contract.
Mason hired Paulsen in 2015 after former head coach Paul Hewitt was fired after two unsuccessful seasons in the A-10.
Athletic director Brad Edwards has a decision to make regarding the coaching staff for this team. Will they keep Paulsen through his last year or will they buy him out and start a search for a new coach?
GRADUATING SENIORS LEAVE FOR FUTURE YOUNG TEAM
With seniors AJ Wilson, Greg Calixte and Javon Greene likely to not return to Fairfax, the Patriots will have a younger team next year.
Barring some transfers, Mason will be led by seniors Jordan Miller and Jamal Hartwell. Other likely starters for the Patriots would be sophomores Tyler Kolek and Ronald Polite, and junior Josh Oduro.
A younger lineup proved to be productive earlier in the season, but that was abandoned by coach Paulsen after only a couple of games.
Mason will take the court again in November for the 2021-2022 season.