Temple prepares for the basketball season

Temple Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams have had both teams speak with the media ahead of their Nov. 7 openers.

Owl's Men's Basketball improved during the offseason not only in skill but also in team chemistry. | EARL KUFEN / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple Men’s and Women’s Basketball held their official American Athletic Conference media day on Oct. 12 on Zoom, as well as several other media availabilities. 

On the men’s squad, head coach Aaron McKie, sophomore guard Khalif Battle and redshirt-sophomore guard Damian Dunn spoke about how the team is preparing for their season. Dunn and Battle were named to the AAC Preseason All-Conference First and Second teams respectively, according to an AAC press release. The American’s coaches projected the men’s team to finish fifth in the conference. 

On the women’s side, new head coach Diane Richardson, senior guard Aleah Nelson and graduate forward Jalynn Holmes spoke about the team’s new structure. Temple’s women’s team was projected on Wednesday to finish seventh in the conference. 

Here’s what we have learned so far: 


Khalif’s Return

Battle averaged 21.4 points per game in the seven starts before suffering a season-ending fracture to his fifth metatarsal on Dec. 1 2021. 

The guard’s presence back on the court has not only been a motivator for the Owls, but the team has their spark plug back on the floor in practice. 

“The work is gonna show,” Battle said. “We are excited to show how much better we got from last year to this year.”

Battle, alongside Dunn and players like sophomore forward Zach Hicks, bring scoring that is hard to game plan for due to their ability to stretch the floor. Battle’s return has helped to ignite a fire within Temple basketball. 

“He wants it, he wants it bad,” McKie said. “The basketball part is gonna take care of itself.”


McKie has always promoted a level-headed approach to coaching by staying even-tempered and rarely yelling at his players. 

When asked how the team will transition from last season to this one, his response centered around letting the players’ growth do the talking. 

“Everything we do, we want to compete at doing it,” McKie said. “You watch these young guys grow every day and compete every day. I think the future is bright.”

The Owls have several key pieces on a fairly young roster, so McKie knows it will take patience for them to reach their goal of a berth in the AAC conference final. 

“I like our perimeter guys, I like our length, I like our athleticism,” McKie said. “If you watch any winning program, it starts with the defensive side.”

This offseason the Owls grew individually in the weightroom while also building chemistry on the court, and it will allow them to compete in conference play. The team is remaining patient, though, especially with the return of Battle. 


Finding Fits

Richardson was hired by Temple University on April 5 to replace former head coach Tonya Cardoza. Richardson, who took Towson University to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 2019, is looking to build a sense of confidence throughout the team. 

“It starts with the relationship and confidence building,” Richardson said. “My staff here, we are set with building confidence. That confidence is off the court and on the court.”

Richardson has solidified herself as a fit for Temple basketball’s “All-In” mantra by implementing her equal opportunity approach and assembling a team with quality talent, Richardson said. 

First-Team All Colonial Athletic Association players like Nelson, who joined Richardson from Towson, and graduate guard Kendall Currence from Northeastern University rounded out Richardson’s first Temple roster. 

Temple was focused around graduated forward Mia Davis in 2021, but with a number of quality scoring options, like Currence and sophomore guard Aniya Gourdine, Richardson will need time to find a recipe for success. 

“You have to look at roster management and find out what you need to fill,” Richardson said. “We did that. It’s a good mix.”

Equal Opportunity

Even with all of the various lineups Richardson can deploy this season, she knows there will be more mouths to feed than duties available. 

With her “spread the ball” ideology, entailing constant ball movement and finding the best looks for scores, Richardson knows everyone on the team will have an opportunity to score at one point or another. 

“With this equal opportunity offense, it is getting them excited that they can score as well,” Richardson said. “You’ll see the progression from the scoring, you’ll see their percentages going up and efficiency going up.”

By taking the season-long journey day-to-day, the Owls can become a consistent force in The American this season, utilizing all of their depth along the way. 

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