LEWISBURG — As he carefully climbed the ladder, Dave Paulsen had a crooked little grin on his face, the kind you get when your childhood dream comes true.
Funny thing about the Bucknell men's coach: he never wanted to be a big league ballplayer or a football player. All he ever wanted to be was a college basketball coach.
Ever since he saw Digger Phelps will Notre Dame to a victory to snap mighty UCLA's 88-game win streak, Paulsen wanted to be a basketball coach. And even though he's been to the top once before, leading his alma mater Williams to a Division III national title, his goal as a youngster was to lead a Division I team to the NCAA tournament.
Well, he's done that now. It hasn't been easy, though.
"It's been a long journey, especially considering we where we were, just 7-23 two years ago," he said. "It's nice to reward the fans and (athletic director) John Hardt, (associate director of athletics) Tim Pavlechko — the people who gave me a chance to come to Bucknell."
Succeeding a legend like Pat Flannery, who coached the Bison to a pair of NCAA tournament wins that are still the only such victories in the history on the Patriot League, Paulsen knew it wasn't going to all peaches and cream from the start.
But it was what he always wanted to do.
"When I was 10 I watched Notre Dame break UCLA's streak and there aren't a lot of TV stations at that point," said Paulsen. "But they went in and you saw Digger Phelps on the board and you saw into his huddle and I said, 'That's it. I want to be a Division I basketball coach.