Written by: Dan Wilson
DAYTON — On Tuesday night, Fran Dunphy walked off the court as head coach of Temple men’s basketball for the final time. The Owls came up short, dropping its First Four matchup 81-70 at the hands of Belmont.
Life comes at you fast. One night you’re ecstatic about hearing your name called on Selection Sunday and two nights later the whole journey comes to an end. The 2018-2019 Temple Owls season is in the books, a 23-10 (13-5) record and an early tournament exit.
Silence filled the Owls locker room. For seniors Shizz Alston Jr. and Ernest Aflakpui, it was their final time taking off the Temple uniform.
“I’d like to thank the guys for getting me and [Ernest] back to the tournament,” Alston said. “You’re always going to have some regrets, plays you wish you would’ve made, but all in all I’m happy with the way my career went.”
Alston walked off the floor for the final time as the Owls leading scorer with 21 points. He leaves North Broad as the all time best free throw shooter in Temple basketball history, finishing at 88.4 percent.
For Dunphy, he walks off the floor the winningest coach in Big Five history. However, his inability to get wins in the NCAA Tournament remains, losing his opening round game for the 14th time in 17 appearances. He’s won just three tournament games in 30 seasons coaching Temple and Penn, never escaping the round of 32.
“I haven’t thought too much about [this being the end at Temple],” Dunphy said. I’m very appreciative of what Temple University gave to me, what the University of Pennsylvania gave to me. I’m a pretty fortunate guy.”
For now, Dunphy is attempting to treat this like any other loss, stating that he still plans to watch the film.
“What else am I going to do?” Dunphy said.
And thus, a new era of Owls basketball begins, now with former Temple baller and Philadelphia 76er Aaron McKie at the helm.
McKie has been on Dunphy’s staff since 2014 and has had a year to prepare for this promotion ever since Temple announced their intention to move on from Dunphy and hand the keys to the former NBA sixth man of the year after the conclusion of the 2017-2018 season.
Despite taking over a program with just two seniors leaving and coming of an NCAA Tournament bid, McKie has his work cut out for him.
Alston was the team leader in scoring and assists while Aflakpui lead the team in rebounds. As of now, Damian Dunn, a 6”4 guard from Norcross, GA, is the only committed recruit on board for next season. Not to mention Temple hasn’t won a single game in the Big Dance in now six consecutive seasons.
“Aaron is going to do great,” Dunphy said. “I feel good about it.”
As for Dunphy himself, don’t rule out returning to the bench if an offer presents itself.
“Sure, I want to keep coaching,” Dunphy said. “I love working with these guys every day and I love the competition, which is spectacular.”