Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
At the end of January, Temple men’s basketball was 14-9 on the season and 8-2 in the American Athletic Conference, having just won back-to-back overtime games, a week removed from a road win at No. 1 Houston that was the crowning achievement of the program in Aaron McKie’s fourth season. At the time, it seemed like McKie was really starting to turn things around at his alma mater, which had beaten Villanova and Rutgers in the non-league portion of the schedule to open some eyes around the country.
Six weeks later, his time on North Broad Street is over. Temple is in the hunt for a new coach, McKie out after the Owls’ crash-landed to end the 2022-23 season, the program announced on Monday.
Temple men's basketball coach Aaron McKie compiled a 52-56 record in four seasons at Temple. (Photo: Jack Verdeur/CoBL)
"I want to thank Aaron for his service to Temple these past nine seasons, both as an assistant and head coach," Temple athletics director Arthur Johnson said in a statement released by the school. "Aaron has been a role model both as a student-athlete, a professional player and as our coach, representing the University and the program in the finest manner. We are extremely grateful for his service to Temple and the men’s basketball program.”
McKie, who served as an assistant under Fran Dunphy for six seasons before assuming the head job, finished his fourth year at Temple with a career head coaching record of 52-56 (.481), going 30-37 (.448) in AAC play. He’ll continue on with the university as a Special Advisor for Athletics.
“I want to thank Temple for the opportunity and privilege to serve as the head coach men’s basketball coach,” McKie said. “I wish nothing but the best for Temple’s student-athletes and the University moving forward. Temple has been and always will be home for me and I wish the program nothing but success.”
It’s not the ending anybody at Temple wanted for McKie, who scored 1,650 points in an Owls uniform and led the program to a trio of March Madness appearances in the early 1990s and went on to a long NBA career. But with a new athletic director in Johnson, who arrived from Texas in 2021, and a poor ending to this season that saw the team’s top scorer leave the program in its stretch run, Johnson decided to take the program in a different direction.
Following the 77-70 win over Central Florida on Jan. 28, Temple won just two of its final nine games to close out the season, including a 30-point loss to Cincinnati in the opening round of the AAC tournament on Friday. The Owls finished the season with a 16-16 record (10-8 AAC), ranked No. 118 on KenPom, two spots lower than the year before despite a roster that was largely intact from the 2021-22 season.
It didn’t help that Khalif Battle, who was averaging 17.9 ppg but had been moved from the starting lineup to the team’s sixth man halfway through the season, took a leave of absence from the team in February before leaving the program altogether shortly thereafter.
McKie and his staff had one committed player for its 2023 class, West Catholic senior wing Zion Stanford.
CoBL will have more on this story as it becomes available
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