MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Senior guard Joe Toussiant sees himself as the “glue guy” on this year’s Mountaineer men’s basketball team.
He’s WVU’s top player off the bench, averaging 10.9 points per game. He’s one of four players averaging double figures. The other three hold a spot in the starting lineup.
Toussiant is seeing 23.5 minutes per game and also has a team-high 27 assists. Anything that needs done to help the team win, pencil in Toussaint’s name beside it.
“I think I have a very important role on this team. I was talking with my brother about that and he was telling me I have to play well in order for us to win. I see that. That’s just the truth. I need to play well every game. Whether it’s passing, scoring, stopping someone at the end of the game,” Toussaint said. “I feel like my role is really big. They can put me in spots where they need me to excel at.”
For as important as Toussaint’s contributions are on the court, there’s one area of his game that is invaluable: leadership.
His ability to lead and influence his teammates was on display after the loss to Xavier.
The Mountaineers’ largest lead of the game came by 11 points in the first half and reached as many as nine in the second half. Toussaint chalked it up to mental lapses on both ends of the court that led to WVU’s second loss of the season.
“We just beat ourselves,” he said.
After the team returned from Cincinnati, Toussaint said he met with two other members of the team and told them as a group, they need to take accountability for the way the team played in the Big East-Big 12 Challenge.
“I got together with Erik [Stevenson] and [Kedrian Johnson] and told them that loss is on us. As the guards, we have to do a better job looking at the clock, time management, getting the ball where it needs to be, scoring, and taking matters into our own hands. You know, if things aren’t going on we need to go make something happen,” Toussaint said.
He thought he personally could have done a better job at bringing the team together when they found themselves down, too.
“At times, people would get turnovers or someone would miss a shot and get down on themselves. I need to do a better job of going up to them and saying next play,” he said.
Now, that loss isn’t solely on Toussaint. He knows that, but he’s also aware that the last thing this squad needs in its young season is to be pointing the finger at each other when they find themselves in adverse situations.
The team was frustrated after losing a game that was their’s for the taking. That’s why Toussiant told the guys he will take full responsibility for the way they played.
“I’m always the guy to take the blame. No matter what it is, I’ll always take the blame and whatever comes with it. I’ve always been like that since I was a young kid,” Toussaint said. “I tell them if you want to point fingers, point them at me. I’ll live with the arguments and the consequences.”
Shouldering the blame is something Toussaint has done his whole life. Whether it’s covering for his siblings when someone told a lie to their mother or stepping up for teammates. He said that is who he is.
“I stay positive no matter what. You’ll never see me pout or sulk on the court. No matter what it is. Maybe I’ll talk to the ref a little bit which I shouldn’t do,” Toussaint said. “I just try to stay positive. The more positive you think, the better the game will be.”
By taking accountability for his teammates, Toussaint hopes that will help them be able to leave tough losses in the rearview and focus on the areas they need to get better.
As long as it is helping the team achieve success, he will do it. Even if it means taking sole responsibility when the Mountaineers have an off night.