Temple Owls Basketball: Aaron McKie and the Owls Thriving Early On

With the departure of Fran Dunphy and the introduction of Aaron McKie as the new men’s basketball coach, a new era in Temple basketball has arrived. Although there are a few new faces on this Temple roster and coaching staff, that hasn’t hindered the fast start they’ve had to the season.

After spending the last few years on Philadelphia basketball legend Fran Dunphy’s coaching staff Aaron McKie is finally running the show at his alma mater. A standout during his playing days, McKie spent three years at Temple, averaging 20.6 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.3 steals during his sophomore year. Most notably he’s known for being a member of the Philadelphia 76ers during the early 2000s. He even won the 6th Man of the Year award during the 2000-2001 season.

Although it’s still very early in the college basketball season, McKie and the Owls have to be very pleased with the start they’re having. After a shaky win against Drexel in their first game of the season, Temple has impressed. The Owls handled business against Morgan State and then won a tight contest against Big 5 rival La Salle. Aaron McKie’s squad then traveled across the country for an impressive win on the road against USC. At the Orlando Invitational on Thanksgiving Day Temple took No. 5 Maryland down to the wire but would fall short. A game in which Temple was leading late in the 2nd half. During the two consolation games over the weekend, Temple would win convincingly against Texas A&M and Davidson.

Guard play has been huge for the Owls so far and leading the charge offensively is Quinton Rose. The senior had thoughts of the draft but decided to forgo it to return for a senior campaign. The 6’8 combo guard from Rochester, NY leads the Owls in scoring at 14.6ppg. Senior point guard Alani Moore II has been a pleasant surprise on offense so far. He’s second on the team in scoring and put up 22 points in the loss against Maryland. Junior guard Nate Pierre-Louis might be the most important player on the team though. Pierre-Louis has improved each year since coming to Temple. He currently leads the team in three statistical categories including rebounds, assists, and steals. What truly separates Pierre-Louis is his play on the defensive end. He’s the definition of a lockdown defender and is not afraid to pick up his man full court.

Moving through the roster, forward De’Vondre Perry appears to be taking a leap especially on the offensive side of the ball. He’s shooting at a staggering 44.4% from 3-point range. One of the players that have already made an impact is center Jake Forrester, a transfer from Indiana. Forrester received a waiver from the NCAA a few days before the Orlando Invitational ruling him eligible for the 2019-2020 season. Forrester won’t light up the stat sheet but his energy and fight on the boards were apparent over the last few games and will be a big plus for Temple as the year goes on. Monty Scott, another transfer from Kennesaw State has also provided a spark off the bench with his scoring and activity on defense. Last season at Kennesaw State Scott averaged 17.3 ppg. Aaron McKie will be leaning on Scott to provide the offense on the 2nd unit.

As usual Temple’s calling card this year has been its defense. Being a disciple in the Fran Dunphy coaching tree, you knew McKie would keep that defensive mindset amongst his players. Temple is top 30 among all D-I teams in opponents ppg at just under 60. They’re also top 10 in opponent field goal percentage, holding opponents to a mere 35% from the field. All of Temple’s guards can defend which means it’ll be very difficult for teams on offense if they don’t have strong ball-handlers.

Temple has a well-deserved break before returning to action at home against Missouri which would be yet another chance to add a resume-building win. The Owls then finish up their out of conference schedule with another Big 5 matchup against St. Joseph’s, Miami and then Ryder. They’ll start conference play at home against UCF on December 31.

The way Temple has played early they look like a team that could get an at-large bid in the tournament. In the American Athletic Conference preseason poll Temple was pegged to finish 7th. As mentioned before it’s still early but this team looks better than a 7th place team in the conference. Don’t be surprised if you see Temple up around the top four by the end of the season.

How do you feel about Temple Owls basketball? Leave a comment below.

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