- The Washington Times - Monday, March 29, 2004

ST. LOUIS — It’s not hard to feel sorry for Kansas forward Wayne Simien.

Last season, Kansas went to the Final Four for a second straight year and lost to Syracuse in the championship game. Simien did not play because he was recuperating from shoulder surgery after missing nearly half the season.

This season, a healthy (except for a nagging groin injury) Simien seemed poised to lead the Jayhawks to yet another Final Four, especially after he scored 30 points and Kansas blasted Alabama-Birmingham 100-74 in the regional semifinals Friday.

But Simien was denied again. Georgia Tech threw a quick, aggressive, collapsing defense at him and his teammates yesterday. The third-team All-American got some looks at the basket but missed all six of his first-half shots. He did better in the second half but wasn’t much of a factor and finished with just 11 points on 4-for-14 shooting from the field.

“They came with the [double teams] most of the game,” he said. “They did a great job of pressuring me. The shots I did get, they all felt good. Most of them were in and out. They just weren’t falling.”

Confidence game

After scoring 23 points in Friday’s victory over Nevada, local product Marvin Lewis missed all six shots and scored just one point for Georgia Tech against Kansas.

With the game tied in regulation, Lewis, a senior who attended St. John’s at Prospect Hall in Frederick, Md., and Rockville’s Montrose Christian, took the last designed shot, a driving layup attempt that missed. Teammate Will Bynum missed the follow attempt, and the game went into overtime.

Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt said that was the play he drew up even though Lewis had a poor offensive game.

“He was taking good shots, and shooters are going to go through ups and downs,” Hewitt said. “The other thing is Marvin is an outstanding free throw shooter.”

Wait till next year

The St. Louis regional, played at Edward Jones Dome, was a practice run for next year, when the city plays host to the Final Four.

The home of the NFL’s St. Louis Rams was configured for basketball, with a grandstand bisecting the arena. Seating capacity was listed at about 45,000, although only about 30,000 showed up for the regional semifinals and finals. And that was with the participation of Kansas, which is located within driving distance and which brought a lot of fans with it.

There were a few technical glitches with the scoreboards and sound system, but the problems were resolved.

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