Graduate guard Oumou Toure hasn’t been interested in what her stats have looked like this season.
One would think she’d care about — or at least be intrigued by — the stats just a little bit, considering that she ranked second on the Mustangs in points per game (9.6) and third in rebounds per game (4.6).
She led the team in both free throws made and attempted, with 83 and 121, respectively, was third on the team in field goals made (62) and was second on the team in total points with 212.
On top of this, she either led the team or was in the top five in most of those categories when it came to conference play: 12.0 PPG (1st), 168 total points (1st) and 5.2 RPG (3rd).
But, despite those stellar numbers, Toure has been dedicated all season not to herself, but to her fellow Mustangs.
“For me, it’s not really about scoring,” Toure said. “I want to see our team successful, and if I have to score to do that, then that’s something that I want to be able to do for the team.”
Toure putting the team’s success before her own isn’t all that surprising, even with the numbers she’s had all year.
What is surprising is not only that she’s done it in her one and only year with the Mustangs but in her first year back on a court since the end of the 2019-20 season, when she was at Butler University.
Indeed, Toure played her freshman season with the Butler Bulldogs of the Big East before missing the next two due to injury and the COVID-19 pandemic. But, during that freshman season, it was clear that she was on track to be one of the standouts of the conference.
She was named to the All-Freshman Team, ranked second on the team in scoring with 9.1 PPG while shooting 46% from the field and was their second-best rebounder at 6.1 per contest.
She put up numbers defensively as well, leading the Bulldogs with 63 steals, topping the Big East and ranking 45th in the NCAA in steals per game with 2.4, and serving as the team leader in blocked shots with 28.
And then suddenly, just when it seemed like she was on her way to being one of the leaders of the team, she missed back-to-back seasons and had gotten her degree.
But by then, she had also worked her way back through rehab and wanted to play one more year, no matter where it was. It helped that Cal Poly’s Computer Science MBA was the right one for her.
And so, she played for the Mustangs. And she’s been one of the standouts. And, she’s been one of the team’s standouts in a year that’s meant just a bit more to her.
“It definitely does [mean more],” Toure said. “It’s almost a way to reinvent myself, I almost get to start over. … It’s almost like I’m a freshman again, honestly.”
When she was a freshman, she helped Butler win more than 15 games in a season for what is still just the second time since the 2012-13 season.
This year, she’s helped the Mustangs triple their win total from last season, and according to Toure, seeing what that improvement has meant to others on the team has been one of the best parts of the season.
“It’s a huge thing to be able to be a part of,” Toure said. “For me to be able to watch them be able to do that, and for me to be able to be a part of that, is something…that I’ve really come to enjoy.”
However, that’s not to say that there weren’t some “first-year jitters” as the season began — not to mention the rust she still had to shake off. Luckily, Toure had the rest of the Mustangs with her from day one.
“[My teammates] were all so welcoming to me here, so that really helped me to transition from being in the Big East to coming here,” Toure said. “The beginning of the season, it wasn’t going how I wanted it to. … For me that was one of the biggest obstacles that I had to chase.”
“I’m very tough on myself, and so for me to have to give myself leeway, or even be forgiving towards myself, is sometimes hard to do.”
And as the stats have shown, once she did, it got easier, and Toure got better as the season went along.
But no matter how many good games she’s had, whether they were at Butler as a freshman, or at Cal Poly in her final year, Oumou Toure does not put herself alone on a pedestal, no matter how much she may deserve it.
“I’ve never been one to look at how many points that I score,” Toure said. “That’s never been a measurement of being able to give everything that I’ve been able to give for [my] team.”
Toure is a team player, through and through, and she proved that in her year with the Mustangs.