Returning to Lawrence after helping the Jayhawks advance to the Final Four with an Elite Eight victory against Duke, Kansas freshman forward Silvio De Sousa thanked all of the fans for their support since he arrived during the middle of the season.
"When I was in high school, I had friends and I kind of felt lonely sometimes, most of the time," De Sousa said. "But ever since I got to Kansas, I feel like I have my family here."
As a bonus to making the Final Four, De Sousa plans to see his parents for the first time in about a year when they watch him play in San Antonio, helped by an NCAA program that helps pay the expenses for players' families.
Omaha, Neb. — Udoka Azubuike has not been to San Antonio...
"I'm so excited," said the KU big man after a win over Duke. "It is nice this time of year."
Azubuike and the Jayhawks advanced to the Final Four with an overtime win over Duke. The Jayhawks held on in the extra period without Azubuike (five fouls), thanks in part to the play of freshman Silvio De Sousa.
"He stepped up big time," Azubuike said. "He did good."
WICHITA — Silvio De Sousa called KU's Friday practice "great."
"(KU big Udoka Azubuike) was going really hard today," De Sousa said. "From my point of view, I think he's ready to go."
De Sousa covered all sorts of topics in his Friday news conference, including his own experience going through his first year of college and what he thinks of Seton Hall.
Above is some of what he had to say.
WICHITA — Seton Hall's Sandro Mamukelashvili had a big prediction when asked what he expects the pre-game message to be against KU.
"We're going to dominate the game," he said. "We won't let them take control of the game."
The Jayhawks will face off against Seton Hall at 6:10 p.m. Saturday in Wichita.
Wichita — Kansas starting center Udoka Azubuike said Wednesday at Intrust Bank Arena he hopes to play in the Jayhawks’ NCAA Tournament opener versus Penn, or, if KU advances, Saturday against North Carolina State or Seton Hall.
In the meantime, the 7-foot sophomore, while rehabbing his injured left knee, has enjoyed watching freshman big Silvio De Sousa step into the spotlight in the postseason.
“I wasn’t able to play, so he knew he had to step up,” Azubuike said. “He had to step his game up if we were going to have a chance.”
KU coach Bill Self said Azubuike went through about four live reps at Wednesday morning’s practice, and said the center will be a game-time decision Thursday versus Penn.
According to Kansas senior point guard Devonte’ Graham, his teammates Malik Newman and Silvio De Sousa couldn’t have picked a better time than this weekend to experience breakthroughs.
Following the Jayhawks’ 81-70 victory over West Virginia in the Big 12 tournament championship game, during which Newman scored 20 points and De Sousa provided 16 points and 10 rebounds, Graham said they give the Jayhawks a new element just in time for the NCAA Tournament.
“Now on the scouting report it’s not just going to be me, Svi (Mykhailiuk) and Udoka (Azubuike),” Graham said of the preparation awaiting KU’s upcoming postseason opponents. “When you’ve got five guys out there that can be in attack mode it’s hard to guard that. It’s perfect timing and the perfect time for them to get hot.”
Kansas freshman forward Silvio De Sousa, who didn’t join the team until late December, scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Jayhawks in the Big 12 tournament championship game against West Virginia.
Following his career evening and an 81-70 KU win, De Sousa said he made sure to keep plugging away, even while most of his first couple of months with KU involved watching from the bench.
“When I came here out of high school I knew it was going to be hard,” De Sousa said. “And I just believed in myself and just tried hard during practices. Now, months later, I’ve actually got my confidence up. Today I finally could play a lot better than I used to.”
Against WVU in particular, De Sousa said his early work on the glass set him up for a productive outing.
“When I got my first five rebounds, that’s when I said, ‘Oh, I’m gonna play hard tonight and make sure we win the game,’” the freshman backup said.
Kansas senior point guard Devonte’ Graham says while the Jayhawks feel bad for starting center Udoka Azubuike, who sprained the medial collateral ligament in his left knee Tuesday, they are prepared to tackle this weekend’s Big 12 tournament without the 7-footer.
Azubuike’s setback, which is expected to keep him sidelined at least until next week, opens the door for Kansas freshman Silvio De Sousa to see more playing time in Kansas City, Mo., before Azubuike’s knee is reevaluated on Sunday.
“It should increase his confidence,” Graham said of the unexpected opportunity for De Sousa, “because he knows he’s gonna get in and he’s not worried about if he’s gonna play or not. He’s just got to go out and be aggressive — him and Mitch (Lightfoot).”
KU coach Bill Self said Lightfoot will start inside for KU Thursday afternoon in the Big 12 quarterfinals.
Following a 10-point, six-rebound showing versus Oklahoma Monday night at Allen Fieldhouse, previously seldom-used backup big man Silvio De Sousa said working alongside starter Udoka Azubuike prepared him for his breakout performance.
“Seeing him helps you with what you’re doing in the game,” freshman De Sousa said after KU’s 104-74 drubbing of the Sooners. “It’s just a great feeling. We both play the same position and just seeing him sharing with me is a big thing for me, means a lot to me.”
For the first time in a long time, the KU men’s basketball team put its collective foot down.
In the midst of a second-half run that saw KU’s lead over OU get pushed all the way out to 30, Graham made an observation on the court.
“You could just kind of see the air going out of them,” Graham said after the 104-74 KU win. “It made us go harder.”