Aaron McKie studied Temple University men’s basketball since he was a kid, going to games at the Palestra at the University of Pennsylvania, which hosted the city’s Big Five matches.
McKie was fascinated by Temple’s program and wanted to be like former coach John Chaney, who coached the Owls from 1982-2006. McKie played under Chaney from 1991-94, and now has taken on Chaney’s role as head coach of the Owls.
“It was destiny,” McKie said, spreading his arms out in the Al Shrier Media Room in the Liacouras Center.
McKie became Temple’s 18th head basketball coach on April 2. He rejoined Temple in 2014 as an assistant coach under former coach Fran Dunphy, and served as the associate head coach in the 2018-19 season.
McKie had “long conversations about basketball” with Chaney, and received advice from him about being the head coach.
“He said to me, ‘Love your players, love your guys, be supportive,’” McKie said. “And that was pretty much it … And really at the end of the day, they loved their players and they cared about their players, and that’s how I want to be.”
McKie shows his care by making sure his team is “prepared” on and off the court.
“He really helps us, you know, with the things off the court,” said junior forward J.P. Moorman II. “With internships and helping us get prepared for life after basketball.”
In preparation for his first season, McKie has been testing different lineups and worked on playing against a zone defense in practice on Oct. 29.
“We’ve been preparing since McKie got the job,” senior guard Quinton Rose said.
McKie named Rose one of three captains along with Moorman and junior guard Nate Pierre-Louis on Oct. 16.
McKie wants to put Rose in a position to score often and for Moorman to shoot well. He added that Pierre-Louis will “create his own offense.”
“We’ll find ways in our offense to put them in situations where they can be successful,” McKie said.
McKie intends to rely on multiple players to support the captains.
“I anticipate playing a lot of guys, and mixing guys in and out,” McKie said. “I don’t anticipate a guy playing 35-plus minutes, but I want them to play at a high level for as long as they can.”
Pierre-Louis said McKie might be nervous before his first game tonight against Drexel at 8 p.m. at the Liacouras Center.
“We’re going to try our best to tell him to relax a little bit because we got it, we’re a team, so we’re family, we’ve got each other’s backs,” Pierre-Louis said. “So we’re going to have his back.”
Pierre-Louis said that despite the change in role, McKie’s attitude stayed the same.
“He’s the same person,” Pierre-Louis said. “He never switched up. Ever since my sophomore year, the first day I met him, I’ll never forget it. He’s been the same person ever since.”