Gonzaga senior center Przemek Karnowski has been one of the fan favorites during the 2017 NCAA Tournament. His name. His beard. His stature. His passing ability. There’s a lot to like.
The 7-foot-1 big man has one of the best storylines in all of college basketball. Karnowski suffered a staph infection that was so severe, it almost cost him his playing career, if not his life. A year later, he’s helped send the Zags to the program’s first national championship game. And his father, Bonifacy, was there to see it, traveling 6,000 miles from Poland to Glendale, Arizona.
“I’m very happy. It’s a great moment for Gonzaga, for Przemek, for Polish supporters, because Polish television make a direct transmission from here,” he said. “The whole country is watching. First time in history.”
He had reached Phoenix this very day, landing at 1 a.m. through London. A little sleep, and then to the University of Phoenix Stadium. No wonder he looked a tad tired. Maybe the American television noticed, because there Bonifacy was, with the screen to himself in the first half, after Przemek caught a South Carolina hand in the eye.
Gonzaga will play North Carolina on Monday night for the national championship after defeating South Carolina, 77-73, in the first of two national semifinals on Saturday night at the University of Phoenix Stadium.
Karnowski was poked in the eye in the first half but was able to play in the second half. South Carolina went on a 16-0 run in the second half, taking a 67-65 lead. Karnowski would help curb that run, leading the Bulldogs to seven unanswered points and recapturing a lead it would never surrender.
Karnowski ended with 13 points.