McCasland had carved a niche as a program-builder at several small-college stops around the Lone Star State. He was hired in April after a tumultuous 2022-23 season ended with Texas Tech firing Mark Adams after just two seasons in charge of a program that is four-plus years removed from playing in the national championship game under Chris Beard.
A solid six-year stint at North Texas, which included the 2023 NIT championship, plus some strong connections to Texas Tech and the Big 12 Conference led McCasland to the new job. There are likely to be plenty of challenges in his debut campaign, starting against a Lions team that began their season Monday with a loss to No. 15 Texas A&M.
The Red Raiders were 16-16 last season and tumbled to a 5-13 finish in the rugged Big 12. McCasland and his staff spent a hectic offseason reconstructing the roster after eight players left the program. Texas Tech returns only five players (all in their second season) and 25.4 percent of its scoring from 2022-23.
The Red Raiders will rely heavily on five transfer-portal additions, each of whom played for NCAA Tournament teams last season. Perhaps the most familiar face from that group in Big 12 circles is super-senior Joe Toussaint, a guard who came to Texas Tech after spending last season at West Virginia.
Toussaint, who spent three seasons at Iowa (2019-22), was the sixth man for the Mountaineers and averaged 9.4 points a game, with a career-best 22 points against the Red Raiders last Jan. 25.
Headlining the familiar faces for the Red Raiders is Pop Isaacs, whose solid freshman campaign yielded a spot on the All-Big 12 Freshman team. Isaacs averaged 11.5 points a game and is Texas Tech's leading returning 3-point shooter (37.8 percent).
What won't be new is the enthusiasm for a program that had taken huge inroads toward being among the Big 12's elite until backtracking a year ago. McCasland, who was a Texas Tech administrative staff member from 1999-2001 after playing at Baylor, was handed the task of restoring that.
"It's their (season) opener and we expect that to be a great environment," TAMU-Commerce coach Jaret Von Rosenburg said after his team's loss to Texas A&M.
The Lions (0-1), in their second season at the Division I level, lost 78-46 to Texas A&M after closing within 21-20 midway through the first half. Shooting struggles haunted TAMU-Commerce: 29.6 percent (16 of 54) from the floor and 14.3 percent (4 of 28) from 3-point range.
Jerome Brewer Jr. led the Lions in the loss with 13 points and five rebounds, while Kalen Williams contributed 10 points.
"They are physical and play really hard," McCasland said of the Lions. "They have a way of competing. I'm anticipating them being an aggressive team which will push tempo and play hard. We'll have to share and take care of the ball in order to be good.
"I think our advantage will be around the rim," he continued. "We'll have to not panic and get good shots against them because I think we'll have the opportunity to score, it's just being able to recognize that."
--Field Level Media
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