But McLean isn't sure he ever has had a team quite like the current Mustangs.
Maybe that's because McLean never has been in a situation like his current one.
His cancer was diagnosed in May 2010. He said doctors told him they detected the disease in his colon, liver, lungs, and an area near his stomach.
He went through about a year and a half of chemotherapy, which he said helped control the cancer in his lungs and near his stomach. In December, he began a new kind of treatment for his liver and colon. He spent three days in a hospital last weekend with complications.
"Got out at 1 o'clock and we played Camden Catholic at 5 o'clock," said McLean, 60. "No way I was missing that game."
He hasn't missed any games in the last two seasons. But he has been limited at times in his ability to jump up and down on the sideline, to engage the referees, to be the same animated, energetic guy who is such a big part of the South Jersey basketball scene.
"We know what he's going through, and just the courage he shows every day, it means so much to us," Triton senior forward Brian Keller said.
When McLean has a wave of nausea during practice, one of his players races to retrieve a trash can. When he gets thirsty on the bench during games, one of his players is there with a paper cup of water.
"To me, Coach is like a member of the family," Triton senior forward Donte Vaughan said. "He's like my dad on the court. Before every game, I say a prayer asking God to protect him."
McLean's courageous battle and his players' support of him would be a special situation if Triton was 0-12.
But here's the thing: The Mustangs are one of the surprise teams in South Jersey. After an 0-4 start - thanks mainly to a schedule that included road games against Bishop Eustace, Paul VI, and Eastern, the top three teams in The Inquirer preseason South Jersey rankings - Triton is 7-6.
The Mustangs won five in a row before losing to Overbrook on Friday night in a game that Keller, the team's leading scorer, missed because of a football recruiting visit. They have beaten perennial powers Shawnee and Camden Catholic. They have seized sole possession of first place in the Olympic Patriot with a 5-0 division record.
This is Triton, remember, a program that last won a division title in boys' basketball in 1974.
"I told my girlfriend, 'Somebody pinch me,' " McLean said.
McLean knows his team has limitations.
"We don't have great shooters, we don't handle that well, and we're not that fast," McLean said. "But I don't think I've ever had a team that competed harder than these guys."
Shawnee coach Joe Kessler, who is good friends with McLean, thinks he knows the reason for that.
"His players understand how hard it is for him at times, what a fighter he is, and they have taken on his personality," Kessler said. "He has never, ever complained about his situation. It's awesome to see how his kids have responded to all that is going on. His courage has really changed the outlook of his players."
McLean said basketball has helped him through the most challenging time of his life.
"That, and watching the Phillies," McLean said.
He relishes going over scouting reports and game-planning with assistant coach Tom Torillo. He cherishes the practices, the give-and-take with the players. He loves the games, watching his kids dig deep at the defensive end and scrap for rebounds and loose balls.
McLean says he doesn't know where he would be without his players.
He shakes his head when he remembers where he is with them: alone in first place.
Contact staff writer Phil Anastasia at 856-779-3223, email@example.com, or @PhilAnastasia on Twitter. Read his blog, "Jersey Side Sports," at www.philly.com/jerseysidesports