Aaron McKie pumped his fist and grinned ear-to-ear after watching Temple take down East Carolina courtesy of a Damian Dunn game-winning three.

But he couldn’t share that postgame celebration in person, instead FaceTiming into the locker room to congratulate his team. It was Temple’s second win that McKie watched from home after entering the team’s COVID-19 protocol on Jan. 4. In his two-game absence, associate coach Monté Ross took over in an interim role.

“Nothing really changed for us other than the staff slid over one seat,” McKie said. “It’s how we run practice and it’s how we prepare. Those guys have their roles and responsibilities.”

McKie joked that the players might hear his staff’s voices more often than his own.

It has been a collaborative effort for Temple with input from each staffer under McKie. That’s been Temple’s mantra since he became head coach in 2019.

So much so that he didn’t feel the need to review any detailed scheme leading up to tip off against Central Florida on Jan. 5. The last thing he told his staff before the first of the two games out was, “Do what you do. Don’t second guess yourself. I trust you. Go ahead and get it done.”

Ross wasn’t new to the position, having previously served as Delaware’s head coach for 10 years. He joined Temple’s staff when McKie took over the program.

Under Ross’ leadership, the Owls took down UCF, 66-62, on the road behind Dunn’s game-winning triple. Three days later, Dunn’s second game-winning shot improved Ross’ Temple coaching record to an unblemished, 2-0.

“I like those guys to be comfortable with who they are,” McKie said. “We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel. I wanted those guys to take the pressure off themselves but also take pressure off the players. [I told them] just go out there and have fun and do what you do.”

Ross, who has faced light barbs about he standing up from the bench too often, maintains McKie has immense faith in his staff — something they greatly appreciate.

Assistant coaches Chris Clark and Jimmy Fenerty, director of basketball operations Raheem Mapp, director of player development Jason Ivey and assistant Mark Macon — three of which formerly played for Temple — all have a prominent hand in coaching the Owls.

“Aaron is such a confident person. He’s so secure in himself,” Ross said. “He delegates and gives us a lot of responsibility and a lot of autonomy. The players are used to hearing our voices. It wasn’t just me [coaching].”

Players shared similar sentiments in McKie’s absence. Although they missed having him on the sidelines, it didn’t feel much different for them.

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Dunn assured reporters that there wasn’t any real “drop off” among different voices across the staff.

Temple played both games after the American Athletic Conference updated its protocol in late December. Teams are eligible to play if they can field seven scholarships players and at least one coach. Any team with fewer, according to the conference, has the discretion to play, reschedule or cancel the contest.

Wednesday night McKie returned to the sideline and didn’t miss a beat, coaching Temple to a 69-64 road win over Tulsa — its first road victory against the Golden Hurricane in program history.

“Aaron’s thing,” Ross said, “is, ‘Look, I may be the face of it but it’s all of us together. It’s a collaborative effort every single day.’”