Aaron McKie wants to bring Temple University men’s basketball back into the national spotlight – like how it was when he played.
McKie was introduced as the Owls’ next coach in a press conference at McGonigle Hall on Tuesday afternoon. While McKie spoke at center court of McGonigle Hall, where he played guard for Temple from 1991-94, he highlighted the Owls’ past filled with conference championships and NCAA Tournament success.
McKie’s Philadelphia roots made him a great fit to continue the legacy of Temple’s coaches, which include the likes of John Chaney and recently-retired coach Fran Dunphy, who spent 13 years leading the program, Athletic Director Patrick Kraft said.
Both Chaney and Dunphy were at McGonigle Hall to watch McKie be introduced.
McKie played high school basketball at Simon Gratz High School in Nicetown, played under Chaney at Temple, had NBA success with the Philadelphia 76ers and was an assistant coach alongside Dunphy for five seasons.
Having years of experience in the Philadelphia basketball scene, especially at Temple, made the decision to appoint McKie as the Owls next coach an easy, Kraft said.
“Aaron McKie is Temple Basketball,” Kraft added. “We have been blessed at Temple to have incredible mentors run our basketball program. Aaron fits the mold of legends like coach John Chaney and coach Fran Dunphy and all those who came before him.”
“This is such a surreal moment for me when I stand here in this building and the history that comes along with it,” McKie said. “I was a kid growing up in North Philadelphia and Temple was my dream school to play basketball at. Now I’m standing here in front of you with my dream job.”
McKie will take over a team that compiled a 23-10 record last season and ended the year with an 81-70 loss to Belmont University in an NCAA Tournament play-in game on March 19. Temple has lost its last three tournament games and made just five tournament appearances in the last 10 seasons.
McKie wants to build Temple into a perennial contender to win the American Athletic Conference and compete for National Championships, he said. McKie knows he won’t accomplish all his goals in one season, but is excited to face the challenge.
“We talked and I said ‘look, all you guys got something to prove.’ There are no guarantees here,” McKie added. “So we are gonna roll our sleeves up and get to work.”
Temple will lose its leading scorer from last season, former guard Shizz Alston Jr., who will graduate in the spring. McKie believes it’s important to fill Alston’s place and wants to recruit smart and tough players.
McKie hopes knowing first hand how hard it can be to play basketball in Philadelphia and the difficulty of making it to the NBA will help him recruit players, he said.
Under McKie, Temple’s offense will be fast paced to be more in touch with the modern game, he added.
“We want to space the floor. We want to play with pace. We want to share the game and keep that ball hopping,” McKie said. “We, obviously, have to defend so for in order for that to happen the ball has to be coming off the backboard and it can’t be coming out of the net.”
McKie is just the fifth men’s basketball coach for Temple in the past 67 years. McKie wants to coach the Owls for a long time and bring back the success he once experienced as a player in the 1990s.
“I started in this place as a winner and I intend to finish as one,” he said.