Joe Toussaint needs to recharge his batteries for Texas Tech to thrive down the stretch

After carrying a heavy load this season, Texas Tech senior guard Joe Toussaint needs to take advantage of the current week-long break in between games.
Kansas State v Texas Tech
Kansas State v Texas Tech / John E. Moore III/GettyImages

Now that the Big 12/SEC Challenge is extinct, there is a hole in the schedule for Big 12 teams. That has resulted in a week-long break for each program in the league, something that is coming at the right time for a key Texas Tech basketball player, Joe Toussaint.

The Red Raiders are currently enjoying six days between last Saturday's win over then No. 20 BYU and this coming Saturday's road trip to Norman, Oklahoma to face No. 11 Oklahoma. Certainly, every member of head coach Grant McCasland's rotation is taking full advantage of this opportunity to rest his legs but no one needed this break more than Toussaint.

There is no denying that the West Virginia transfer struggled in both games last week. Against then No. 5 Houston on Wednesday, he was held to nine points while managing to make just two field goals (on a mere four attempts) while turning the ball over four times, an uncharacteristically high number for him. Then, on Saturday, he scored only five points on 1-10 shooting against BYU.

What's interesting about the game against BYU is that McCasland cut Toussaint's minutes by a noticeable margin. Playing only 26 minutes in that contest, he played eight fewer minutes than he did against Houston. What's more, that was only the second time in Big 12 play that he has logged fewer than 33 minutes (the other was a 29-minute night against Oklahoma State).

There's no question that the 6-foot, 190-pound New York native has been asked to give Texas Tech more this year than he's ever been asked to give any of his other teams as a collegiate. This season, he's started all 18 games and averaged 33.1 minutes per contest.

Previously, his greatest usage was last season when he gave West Virginia 21.7 minutes per game off the bench. Meanwhile, the most games he's started in a season is 21, which came in 2021-22 at Iowa. That year, though, he played only 17.4 minutes per game.

In other words, Toussaint is going to fly past his career highs in starts and minutes played this year (provided he remains healthy). Already, he's played 595 total minutes this year meaning that if he hits his per-game average, he'll set a new career-high in minutes in just five more games. That means that there will still be eight more regular season games for the Red Raiders after that.

Now, Toussaint isn't the only Red Raider logging huge minutes. In fact, Pop Isaacs and Derrion Williams are also averaging over 30 minutes per game. Additionally, in Big 12 games, Isaacs, Williams, and Warren Washington are all playing more minutes than Toussaint.

However, there's a ruggedness to the way that Toussaint plays that seems like it would take a greater toll on the undersized guard than it would on any other Red Raider. After all, just consider how many times each game Toussaint seems to go crashing to the court after taking the ball into the paint.

Isaacs is much more of a perimeter player meaning he takes less of a pounding on the offensive end. Meanwhile, Williams and Washington are far bigger players who are built to better withstand the rigors of Big 12 play.

Then there's the fact that more is asked of Toussaint than almost any Red Raider. He has the second-highest usage percentage (the percentage of plays in a game on which an individual player either shoots the ball, assists on a basket, or turns the ball over). Toussaint's usage is 21.6% trailing only Isaacs an his 31.0%.

After the BYU game, McCasland singled out Toussaint on the Texas Tech radio broadcast as a player who needed a rest given all that he's given this team so far. That's certainly true and moving forward, Tech is going to need a refreshed version of its point guard.

What we saw in Texas Tech's most recent game isn't sustainable. On a night when Toussaint was clearly running on fumes, Isaacs put on his superhero cape and saved the day with 32 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals. He almost single-handedly carried his team back from a 17-point first-half deficit but to expect that type of effort from the sophomore on a regular basis is foolish.

Rather, Tech needs Toussaint to pair with Isaacs to give the Red Raiders a 1-2 punch in the back court. The college game is all about guard play and that's why McCasland desperately needs Toussaint to carry his portion of the load the way he has for most of the season.

This week, Toussaint and his teammates will have six days between games. It is a time to reset and refresh before the stretch run of conference play. Hopefully, this will be a beneficial break for Toussaint because he must find a way to get back to being the player he was prior to his last two games if Tech is going to have the type of season everyone in Raiderland is hoping for.

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