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.

Anas Mahmoud figuring out this college basketball, Louisville rips Duke

Louisville’s season passed before its eyes when Donovan Mitchell went down with an ankle injury in the second half. He didn’t stay down, returning to help seal the win over Duke (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Anas Mahmoud seems to be figuring out this college basketball thing, embracing it actually, becoming good at it. Just don’t think about turning pro anytime soon. Please.

A couple of weeks ago the University of Louisville basketball team was 0-2 league play, stuck in the basement of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Some fans imagining the worst after losses to Virginia and Notre Dame.

Anas Mahmoud would score 13 of his 17 points in the first half (Cindy Rice Shelton photo)>

Saturday, after their third straight conference win, a 78-69 decision over Duke, the Cardinals were tied for fourth place with Virginia. Back where they rightfully belonged, according to Mahmoud.

“We play more team defense. That shows how great our team is,” said Mahmoud. “As long as we get the ‘W’ that’s all that matters. I think we showed today that we’re as good as everybody.”

Probably meant anybody but who’s to argue with the 7-footer from Egypt. Not a coincidence that UofL’s three-game win streak began a game after Mahmoud returned from missing games with a concussion. He has clearly emerged from the crowd of Louisville big men as the undisputed man in the middle.

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Mahmoud still waiting to break out for Louisville basketball


Every now and then Anas Mahmoud will make an amazing play, going high for a block, sinking one of those sweeping hook shots, or breaking loose for a monster dunk. That’s between all the forgettable plays, of course.

When he makes one of those kinds of plays, there’s always the hope within the fan base, the possibility that a switch may have turned on for Mahmoud. That he may have turned some kind of corner, signaling that he is on his way.  

Coach Rick Pitino has said he expects Mahmoud to be a great player before he leaves the University of Louisville basketball team. Seems confident that he will develop enough to possibly make it in the NBA.

Mahmoud had some memorable plays in UofL’s 91-58 win over William & Mary on Monday at the KFC Yum! Center. The first an in-your-face block of an attempted William & Mary layup at the 13:20 mark in the first half. The next one his picking off a pass from the other W&M guard for a steal at the 9:38 point. 

A couple of plays later he comes up with another steal. He would pick up his only basket of the night, backing into his defender and turning for a layup at the 5:45 mark.

An active night for the 7-foot, 215-pound junior center from Cairo, Egypt. His stats for the game — 2 points, 3 rebounds, 4 fouls, 1 assist, 1 turnover, 1 block and 2 steals — confirm that he was integral in the rout of a good William & Mary team.

Mahmoud’s time at UofL has reached the halfway point and he has been inconsistent at best. If he’s going to make the breakthrough Pitino expects him to make, it has to start happening pretty soon.

He appears to play at a casual pace much of the time, sometimes appearing amused that some players take the game so seriously. The breakthrough will be more likely to happen if and when he decides to get serious about making basketball a career.

Big guys have small impact in UofL exhibition game

University of Louisville freshman V. J. King launches a shot over Bellarmine's Alex Cook (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).
University of Louisville freshman V. J. King launches a shot over Bellarmine’s Alex Cook (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

An impressive first half in which the University of Louisville basketball team couldn’t do anything wrong, followed by a second half of putting on the brakes, seemingly to allow Bellarmine to save face. 

Mentor Rick Pitino going easy on former assistant Scott Davenport after seeing UofL race to a 49-17 lead at halftime? Or Davenport peeling the paint off the locker room, motivating his team to keep the score respectable in the second half of the 81-60 loss to UofL? We will never know for sure, but both were completely different teams the final 20 minutes.

Quentin Snider had four assists but UofL turnovers outnumbered assists 12-11 in the exhibition game (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).
Quentin Snider had four assists but UofL turnovers outnumbered assists 12-11 in the exhibition game (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Could it be that UofL may be back to where it was a couple of seasons ago, of having only a token presence at the center position? Former Cardinal Felton Spencer, now an assistant at Bellarmine, providing a reminder that big men often take longer to develop.

Mangok Mathiang and Anas Mahmoud  towering guys, in the 7-foot range, looking all but lost, managing only 11 points and six rebounds between them. Matz Stockman never getting off the bench for some reason. All of the aforementioned playing in their junior and senior seasons.

Really too early to draw any conclusions, especially from an exhibition game. Pitino maybe not expecting his big men to provide any offensive punch at present, wanting them to focus on defense, expecting baskets to come from other areas?

Pitino’s offensive approach has always been pretty much an enigma but it always seems to work out, having already won six conference championships, made three Final Four appearances, and cut down one national championship net during his 15 seasons at Louisville.

Adding to that impressive list of accomplishments would be more likely to happen and definitely much more fun to watch with more contributions from the big men.


Anas Mahmoud’s progress interrupted at Louisville

One of the best parts of the 2015-16 college basketball season has been witnessing the impressive improvement in Anas Mahmoud. He’s been a living, breathing affirmation of Rick Pitino’s ability to develop talent from young, aspiring raw material.

Anas Mahmoud 2Such a pleasure seeing him backing into, pivoting around a defender, and laying the ball gently into the basket. Occasionally making a swooping hook shot. Or sailing upwards to block a sure dunk, sending the ball into the seats. He wasn’t always successful but when he was, his awe-struck admirers would shriek with joy.

Shrieking with joy about how far Mahmoud had come,  anticipating how much more he seemed capable of improving, possibly becoming one of those rare dominant forces in the middle.

Alas, University of Louisville fans have seen the last of Anas Mahmoud for this season. Anas stepped on another player’s foot and sprained an ankle during practice on Monday. He will be in a boot and on crutches for the immediate future, missing UofL’s final six games this season.

The sophomore from Cairo, Egypt has averaged 3.2 points and 3.0 rebounds this season with 29 blocked shots, averaging 14 minutes a game during ACC action.  He scored a career-high 15 points in an unforgettable game at Georgia Tech in January.

Back to the feed table and the weight room during the off season, hopefully under Pitino’s watchful eyes.