The Temple men’s basketball team is heading south for the summer, but players don’t expect it to be a tropical vacation.
The Owls will take their first foreign trip as a group since 2013 when they head to the Bahamas for a three-game slate from Aug. 2-6. Temple will take on the Commonwealth Bank Giants before playing two games against different Nigerian national teams in Nassau.
“We’re viewing it as a business trip,” senior guard Quinton Rose said. “We’re going to go out there and have fun, but we know it’s a business trip for us, and getting better is our main goal.”
Rose is one of a handful of players who have taken on greater responsibility under first-year head coach Aaron McKie, who’s looking forward to the chance to get his footing at the helm of the program after taking over for Philadelphia legend Fran Dunphy.
McKie is looking forward to seeing how his players have progressed in the offseason. While he knows that the games will be competitive, he’s entirely focused on what he and his team can do.
“You never know what kind of competition you’re going to face when you get out there, but it’s more about us,” McKie said. "I want to see what they’re capable of doing. They’ll make mistakes, but I’ll be able to really gauge at the end of the summer and say, ‘OK, this is what I want this guy to do.’ "
Among the players whom McKie will be watching with particular interest are transfer James Scott, a redshirt junior guard who averaged 17.3 points per game at Kennesaw State two years ago, and junior guard Nate Pierre-Louis, who is coming off of a season in which he earned the AAC’s most improved player honor.
Not only is Pierre-Louis excited to see how the Owls can gel as a team, he’s also savoring the opportunity to play with his freshman brother, Josh. McKie noted that the brothers bring great energy and competition to practices.
“[Nate and Josh are] both supremely gifted athletically,” McKie said. “The biggest thing with those guys is I try to get them to slow down and think the game a little more, as opposed to those guys reacting off of their athletic prowess.”
After months of summer work that focused on improved physical strength and defense, McKie just wants to see his team making progress.
“I wish I could win every game we get out there and play,” he said. “Realistically, will that happen? I don’t know, but I want to be moving in the right direction.”
The Owls open their season on Nov. 5 against Drexel at the Liacouras Center.