Mahmoud, Spalding live big, Louisville routs Siena

The light switch may have finally been flipped for Anas Mahmoud in an 86-60 win for the University of Louisville over Siena College before a crowd of 17,215 at the KFC Yum! Center. 

Whether the switch remains in the on position depends on whether he continues to be an active participant  or is only passively involved. One can hope that he stays as engaged as he was during the second half. Apparently something he heard at halftime got him going.

Ray Spalding and Jordan Nwora battle for a rebound,with Spalding prevailing this night (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

The 7-foot senior center went from a decent first half to a dominant second half, stuffing the stat sheet — dunking on Siena over and over in final 20 minutes — on his way to a near triple double, with 17 points, 13 rebounds and nine blocked shots.

Mahmoud has shown brief glimpses of potential during the past three seasons but nothing resembling his latest showing, energy that was lacking from him in the team’s two losses. Not like overwhelming Siena is anything to write home about, but at least it’s a start. 

“Ray (Spalding) and I need to make things happen under the basket to take some of the pressure off the guards,” he said after the game. Indeed.  He also could added something about the intensity level he brought to the game in that second half.

Spalding, meanwhile, was scoring 10 points, grabbing 10 rebounds, blocking four shots, and making four steals. Spalding and Mahmoud had managed only two points and nine rebounds in Sunday’s two-point loss to Seton Hall.

So Mahmoud and Spalding came out of their shells, at least temporarily, confirming that they may have the ability to live up to their potential. Nothing to get overly excited about, not until they live up to the talk, the promise, and prove they can do it and do it consistently again better competition.

An indication of whether the switch has really flipped for these guys will come soon enough, with UofL entertaining Indiana at 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon.

Another cakewalk for Louisville women

On the surface not much to take away from the University of Louisville women’s basketball team’s 91-56 win over UT Martin. Making it look easy, the Cardinals improving their record to 9-0.

Myisha Hines-Allen leading all scorers with 16 points in 20 minutes (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Despite the margin of victory, Coach Jeff Walz was not that pleased with the win, stating, “I keep telling them, it’s not who you play but how you play,” he said. “That’s how playing time is going to be determined.”

Myisha Hines-Allen would lead all scorers with 16 points, all but six of them in the first half. The only reason she didn’t notch another double-double was she was only in the game 21 minutes. Asia Durr and Jazmine Jones would contribute 14 apiece during their abbreviated playing time.

Kylie Shook getting a rare start, but the 6-foot-4 sophomore managing only two points. Having a tough time converting shots, making only one of six. She was a major factor on defense, however, grabbing four defensive rebounds while blocking four Tennessee Martin shots.

Asia Durr turning in 14 points but making only four of 11 shots (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Plenty of action from the bench again, giving the 6,279 fans at the KFC Yum! Center another good look at the depth available to Coach Jeff Walz. The more time the subs get, the more they will contribute during the upcoming nitty-gritty of the schedule.

If anything else is to be concluded, it would be that freshman guard Dana Evans is a serious player. She never takes a play off and is equally intense on both the defensive and offensive ends of the court. Evans had only six points but she also had six assists and three steals to go with three fouls.

Learning curve continues against Seton Hall for David Padgett

Coach David Padgett gets in the ear of Deng Adel (in top photo) during crunch time against Seton Hall. Anas Mahmoud, Malik Williams, V. J. King and Dwayne Sutton (above) reflect the second low in a row (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

This was never going to be easy, thrusting a 32-year-old into the head coach’s role for University of Louisville basketball. No expectations, no aspirations, hurry up, just fill the post vacated by a Hall of Fame coach.

Deng Adel under for a reverse layup for two of his team-leading 20 points (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

David Padgett had only a couple of days to think about it, never vacillating, taking the job, a shortcut to the big time. The players needed someone, wanted him. A shaky time for the team and the fan base. Much to learn, much to teach, not a lot of time.

Could wind up being the school of hard knocks for everyone concerned, as was evident in UofL’s 79-77 loss to Seton Hall before 19,244 at the KFC Yum! Center. Three starters committing four turnovers apiece, most coming at the worst possible times, and with the trio of guards managing only five assists. 

A return to the days of not so long ago when Louisville struggled to have a presence in the middle. Anas Mahmoud, still a seven-foot lightweight after adding 20 pounds in four years, collecting two fouls before breaking a sweat Unable to collect a rebound, make an assist or score a point in 20 minutes.

Dwayne Sutton collecting nine points and three rebounds in 20 minutes of playing time (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Ray Spalding, still struggling with his awkwardness, not much of a factor in the paint or on the boards, managing two points and four rebounds, respectively. Needs to bring all that progress he was said to be making in practice on game days.

Deng Adel, looking good in the scoring column, with 20 points while making seven of 12 field goal attempts and six of six free throws. But having a hard time finding open teammates, especially with the game on the line. Possibly not trusting himself or his teammates at times, making questionable decisions, resulting in blown opportunities.

Quentin Snider, playing better at home than he did at Purdue, having one of his better games of the season. Only to have it go sour for him and be remembered for that errant jump shot in the closing seconds. 

Snider would collect a scant two assists and UofL would be credited with only eight of them for the game, indicating there may be too much one-on-one action and too little passing.  Not much looking for teammates or players not moving without the ball. 

V. J. King still not able to stop anybody on the defensive end or find people around under the basket but contributing 14 points.

Newcomers Jordan Nwora and Dwayne Sutton scoring 10 and 8 points, respectively, but with only one assist between them. 

Padgett, meanwhile, giving his players the benefit of any doubts, suggesting they will get better. Not getting in any faces, not embarrassing anyone during timeouts, rarely raising his voice, being respectful with officials, always the gentleman for now.

He’s new, taking a different tact, relating to a new generation of players in a different way than his predecessors. Going to be interesting to see if his well-mannered approach is successful.  Could be he may have to resort to some more less subtle ways of communicating if things don’t start clicking soon.

Padgett will eventually be successful. But there may be some steep learning curves. Definitely no shortcuts.

Akron continues to haunt Ken Lolla and Louisville soccer

Louisville goalie Will Meyer, a redshirt freshman (in both photos), kept his team in the hunt against Akron until the final play, a penalty kick knocking UofL out of the NCAA tournament (Cindy Rice Shelton photos).

Ken Lolla can’t go home again. Doesn’t need to because he keeps bumping into Akron at the most inopportune times.

More often than not soccer is a tedious drawn-out game, with continuous action, lots of repetition, and more than its share of frustration. So little scoring that one can easily miss the climax if not paying strict attention.

The University of Louisville and Akron played 110 minutes Friday night without scoring a goal , forcing the 3,179 in attendance to sit through a dozen penalty kick attempts.

Junior Tate Schmitt, UofL’s leading scorer with nine goals this season, made good on a penalty kick (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

No denying the tension and excitement at this point, however. High drama, everything on the line. When it was all over, Akron had won the NCAA quarterfinal game, with Akron out-kicking the Cardinals  4-3.

Will Meyer, UofL redshirt freshman goalie, keeping Akron at bay, credited with three saves during regulation and two overtimes. Blocking two penalty kick attempts, sending it into another sudden death. Alas, the deciding goal was delivered by  Akron’s Niko De Vera.

Ken Lolla coached at Akron before coming to Louisville 12 years ago so he could make UofL a national contender in soccer. He has more than delivered on that goal but Akron may still be the better program.

For the second time in seven years, Akron has eliminated the Cardinals from the NCAA’s College Cup. The first time in 2010, a 1-0 defeat in the national championship game.

Go away Akron.

Louisville soccer needs to derail Akron’s 12-game winning streak

Ken Lolla needs to get past Akron, his former team that denied Louisville the national championship in 2010.

Ken Lolla’s soccer team is back. So close. So far.

Final home game, last chance to see a University of Louisville team within three wins of a national championship. 

Big challenge, however, with a foe that has won its past 12 games and evoking significant emotional ties for Lolla. In the quarterfinal round, competing for  a berth in the 2017 College Cup semifinals.

That foe just happens to Akron University, where Lolla coached for 13 seasons before being recruiting by Tom Jurich to taking over the UofL program in 2005. The same man who made Akron a power has made Louisville a national contender for the past 12 years.

Any match against Akron is an experience for Lolla but none more gut-wrenching than the game between UofL and Akron in the College Cup in 2010. Akron won that game 1-0 in the national championship final at Santa Barbara, Calif. 

If he gets emotional about playing Akron again, Lolla doesn’t let it show. “I think the biggest thing is to relish the moment,” he said. “To play in the NCAA Tournament is special as it is. To play for the opportunity to go to the College Cup, the biggest event, is even more special.”

The Cardinals (13-2-4) are led by junior Tate Schmitt who had the game-winning goals in NCAA tournament wins over San Francisco and Colgate. He’s also the team’s leading scorer with nine goals on the season. The Zips (18-3) are led by Stuart Holthusen, a senior from Auckland, New Zealand, with 12 goals.

Lolla himself needs to “relish the moment” while putting Akron behind him this time around.

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A visit to an Akron soccer message board revealed that a sizeable number of fans from the Ohio school will be making the five-and-a-half trip to the Dr. Mark & Cindy Lynn Stadium for the game. Seated among them in Section 211 will be Scott Caldwell who scored the winning goal in the 2010 championship game:

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Akron Coach Aaron Embick who felt strongly that fifth-seeded Akron deserved the No. 4 seed over Louisville, telling an Akron newspaper, “I think as a team we felt like we probably did more in the regular season,” he said. “We were a little bit hotter at the end of the regular season than Louisville to deserve the fourth seed. 

Nice bulletin board material.