Silvio De Sousa confident as ever after late free throws, win over Clemson
OMAHA, Neb. — However many KU fans filled CenturyLink Center on Friday, there was a palpable tension as Silvio De Sousa stepped to the line in a six-point game with less than 90 seconds left.
Likely the least nervous of the lot? The freshman himself.
“When you have confidence, you don’t have to feel pressure,” said De Sousa with a chuckle.
De Sousa’s stroke wasn’t quite as perfect as his confidence — he went 1 for 2 in that instance and finished 3 for 4 for the game — but his minutes for the Jayhawks weren’t far from it.
In KU’s 80-76 win over the Tigers, De Sousa scored nine points (3-for-4 shooting) and added six rebounds and a block. He committed one turnover in his 13 minutes and even came away with one of the most impressive highlights of the tournament, throwing down an alley-oop off a half-court pass from Devonte’ Graham.
Funny enough, though, it wasn’t the dunk that caught De Sousa’s eye after the game.
“I just love making free throws,” the freshman deadpanned.
His teammates are certainly aware.
When De Sousa stepped to the line for his late free throws, his teammates didn’t say anything to him about the shot.
“Nah,” De Sousa said. “'Cause they know I was going to make them.”
De Sousa said he shoots about 200 free throws per day, knocking them down at a clip between 75 and 80 percent. He said his motivation for doing so is because of how crucial they end up being in games — perhaps none bigger than when he stepped to the line with 90 seconds left.
“It’s probably one of the biggest situations he’s been in,” Newman said. “So for him to get up, to have poise and knock that down, I mean it just shows how much he loves free throws, as he say.”
Newman’s final words were said with a laugh, but several players affirmed that De Sousa’s commitment to free throws is no laughing matter.
Svi Mykhailiuk said De Sousa is one of several players who stick around to shoot free throws after practices while Graham noted De Sousa also puts in work before weights sessions and other team events.
De Sousa, Graham said, even takes extra free throws when Azubuike is working on his shots, something Graham considers to be part of building team chemistry.
But if the free throws are any indication of De Sousa’s confidence, there’s plenty for KU fans to be excited about. Newman credited the freshman with a crucial performance in the win, while De Sousa beamed with confidence after playing a career-high 13 NCAA tournament minutes.
“My teammates trust me even more. I’m just trying to help the team,” De Sousa said. “I knew my time was going to come, and I know it’s still coming.”