GLENDALE, Ariz. — Time and time again, Chris Silva was asked about foul trouble on Friday as South Carolina basketball prepares to face Gonzaga on Friday night in the Final Four.
Finally, with a laugh, smile and a shake of his head, Silva was asked if he is sick of talking about fouls and foul trouble.
“Man, all season long,” Silva said. “It is crazy. It’s like the only thing I’m doing on the floor is fouling.”
Silva and front court partner Maik Kotsar understand the situation. They are South Carolina’s primary big men, eating up most the minutes with a caveat: They have spent a lot of time in foul trouble this season.
“Since we are fouling, we have to talk about it,” Kotsar said.
On Friday, both had to talk about another reality. They know they can’t afford to be in foul trouble against Gonzaga, a team with four players 6-foot-11 or taller.
The Zags are led by 7-1 center Przemek Karnowski, who averages 12.2 points and 5.8 rebounds per game and provides a major mismatch night in and night out.
“We need to stay on court to guard Kranowski,” Kotsar said. “He is a big body and we need all the manpower to stop him, to stop Gonzaga. I think staying out of foul trouble is one of the keys.”
Kotsar said he has seen players as tall as Karnowski in his career, but never with the skill set to match the size. Both Silva and Kotsar likened the size Gonzaga presents to that of Texas A&M, one of the biggest teams in the SEC last season.
Still, there hasn’t been a team that rivals Gonzaga on the Gamecocks’ schedule and if South Carolina wants another game on its schedule, Silva thinks it’s going to come down to the post play.
“It’s the bigs again,” Silva said. “We are not really deep in the post. We really try to not be in foul trouble and that will help the team.”
Silva and Kotsar each have played big roles in South Carolina’s NCAA Tournament run to reach Saturday’s 6:09 p.m. ET tip against Gonzaga. Silva had a monster second-half showing against Duke to reach the Sweet 16, while Kotsar scored 12 points against Florida to help the Gamecocks reach the Final Four.
Now, they have another big challenge in front of them if South Carolina is going to reach the national title game.
“Every challenge,” Kostar said, “I’m up for it.”