The Syracuse University men's basketball team faces Virginia Tech Wednesday night in the semifinal round of the NIT Tipoff Tournament at Madison Square Garden. However, in the middle of what could be considered SU's toughest game of the season, the Orange (4-0), ranked No. 5 in both the AP and USA Today/ESPN Coaches polls, and their head coach Jim Boeheim are still answering questions about the police investigation of assistant coach Bernie Fine, who was placed on administrative leave after being accused of sexually abusing two former ball boys in the 1970s, '80s and '90s.
On Tuesday, in a pregame presser for Wednesday's match up against the Hokies, Boeheim was -- not surprisingly -- bombarded by reporters who wanted to get more sound bites from the man who has been coaching at SU and is very good friends with Fine for 40-plus years.
"I made one statement. I think it was the right statement. I don’t have to repeat it, everyone’s seen it. I support Bernie. Like I said, known him for 50 years. If something else happens, some factual things, then we’ll have to adjust to that."
Despite saying that he will no longer talk about the Fine situation, Boeheim has continued to talk about the Fine situation. It is very clear that Boeheim has scaled back his verbal assault on Fine's accusers and alleged victims -- Bobby Davis and Mike Lang -- who he said Friday were lying and accused them of money grabbing, and, instead, turned his attention to the media coverage surrounding the situation (via .
He did a double take. "That’s not for me to say," he replied. Then, a rare smirk. Another glance over his shoulder. "Read Jason Whitlock," he suggested, referring to the national columnist who smashed ESPN to pieces Tuesday for airing the Bobby Davis allegations against Fine, while we were all still dizzy from Penn State.
If there are two message that Boeheim has tried to clearly communicate to the media in the past few days, they have been: A) he's no Joe Paterno -- if he knew anything about the allegations facing Fine, he would have reported them immediately; and B) Bernie Fine is his friend -- and if you want to slam him for supporting his friend, well, go ahead.
In the past few days, since ESPN broke the story about Fine, there has been a lot of back-and-forth talk in and around the Syracuse area, but little new information. The only new tidbit -- and it's a solid one -- has come from Danielle Roach, former girlfriend of Davis, who pushed for the investigations of Fine in '02 and '11 and says there will be a lot of support for Fine because he didn't abuse everybody.
Not surprisingly, as Roach mentioned, much of the water-cooler talk as been very supportive of Fine, who seemingly has a spotless record among the SU community.
Many fans who have called in to local radio talk shows have been very respectful toward the alleged victims, but have told countless stories that strongly support Fine's character. Meanwhile, a very loud minority has, rightfully so, questioned SU's and the Syracuse Post-Standards's previous investigation in '03 and the practices of the basketball program.
Unfortunately for Syracuse fans, answers to these questions will not come soon. That's because the Syracuse Police Department, led by Police Chief Frank Fowler, and the District Attorney, William Fitzpatrick, are currently participating in an ego war, which features one man calling out the other man. Meanwhile, nothing gets done.
Despite the solid match up Wednesday against Virginia Tech, a possible final's showdown Friday vs. Stanford or Oklahoma State and a looming top-10 match up against the University of Florida, Dec. 2 (7 p.m. on ESPN), the Orange faithful can't get fully get back into their basketball mood. And, sadly, that maybe the case all season long.
Here's video from the Associated Press of Boeheim's Tuesday interview.
Boeheim Standing by Bernie Fine (via AssociatedPress)
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