Labels: Orange44 Lawdogs
Famed movie critic Gene Siskel was known for asking the following question, “what do we know?” So let’s start there. We know that allegations have been made of a disturbing nature against Bernie Fine, long time assistant to Jim Boeheim at Syracuse, and the Associate Head Coach of the program. We know that these allegations were made by Bobby Davis, a former Syracuse ball boy. It was investigated previously by the Syracuse Post-Standard, ESPN, and Syracuse University. Nothing could be corroborated at the times of those investigations. The allegations resurfaced a couple of weeks ago, which then got the Syracuse Police, Onondaga County District Attorney’s Office, ESPN, the Post-Standard, Syracuse University, the US Attorney, and the US Secret Service involved. We know that nothing was run in the papers or the media before 2011 because no corroboration was found to confirm Davis’ story at the time, including people he told them to ask. That also includes the now accuser #2 Mike Lang, Davis’ stepbrother. Jim Boeheim defended his friend at this point, calling the accusers liars. On Sunday a new accuser, Zach Tomaselli, charged with sexual assault himself, accused Fine of abusing him as well. Also on Sunday, ESPN released an audiotape of what they say is Laura Fine, Bernie’s wife, and Bobby Davis from 2002. In that tape, the woman admits that she suspected some of the things that Bernie Fine was accused of to Bobby Davis. Finally, on Sunday night, Nancy Cantor fired Bernie Fine. Jim Boeheim also issued a statement apologizing for his earlier statements in defending Fine and calling the alleged victims a liar. This is all that we know.
That is a skimming of the facts but rest is all speculation and guesses and assumptions. And that is where we are at the writing of this. Those are the only things we know for sure. That’s important to remember, because ESPN, sports radio callers, and national columnists all seem to think they know more than that. They do not. The rest is all opinion or assumption.
It is no secret that I, Brian Harrison, am a graduate of Syracuse University (’05). John Brennan is a two time graduate of Syracuse, earning his BA and law degree from Syracuse (’03, ’06). We are fans. We are both upset by the notion that this could have happened at Syracuse University, a place where we both have endless fond memories, both before and after our commencements. But do I think that the University had anything to do with any molestation? No. Nor do I think there is a grand conspiracy or cover up in any way on the part of the University or any employee of the university. Not even Bernie Fine covered anything up. He just denied it. Nor, at this juncture, is there anything or anyone saying that there is some sort of cover up. Rational people would say that means at this point there wasn’t one then.
The good news is that Syracuse University could not have handled anything from this latest investigation better. From the initial statement from the Chancellor, to this latest statement about the firing of Bernie Fine, they have been excellent in their smartly crafted statements, saying the right things, and hitting the right tones. Something Penn State never did.
This investigation has taken many twists. Each more unbelievable than the last. It started when the District Attorney basically accused the Chief of the Syracuse Police Department (and/or the Assistant Chief) of either clear obstruction or incompetence. In an awesome press conference (please watch it if you haven’t) he ripped up one side of the police and down the other, and got a little bit of the mayor as well. Then there is this phone call. I don’t know what else is going to come out, but at this point nothing is surprising.
In terms of the legal situation, William Fitzpatrick will present items as the District Attorney to the Grand Jury. No charges will come of it thanks to the New York Statute of Limitations. While they have been amended to allow prosecution for these heinous crimes against children indefinitely, they were not changed retroactively. With any new and more recent allegations charges could be brought, but as of right now Fine is essentially in no danger of a case being brought in court. And there is always the possibility of Federal Court as well.
This third accuser to surface has major credibility issues, looking at it from a legal perspective. Facing charges of sexual assault in Maine, this seems like setting up a legal defense as an abused child himself. If true or not, there are credibility issues here that police and courts have to sort out. His father has said it is lies. It is another bizarre angle, but something that, if true, could provide a case for the district attorney or federal authorities to charge Fine with.
But on to the real reason for writing this essay. A few people are calling for the firing of Jim Boeheim. Nothing that he has done, or any information that has currently transpired, is grounds or reason for Syracuse University to fire Jim Boeheim. You have to remember at the start of this that this was the third time these allegations had surfaced. Jim Boeheim’s employer, Syracuse University, conducted their own investigation into the allegations in 2005 (which never heard the audio tape just released) over a four month period and nothing was found. Jim Boeheim thought that Fine was exonerated. On top of the fact that Boeheim had no reason to believe it was true from anything he saw, he defended his friend of 50 years. Now there is a preponderance that the first two victim’s stories are true. It appears his first statement of calling the accusations lies was in error. We still do not know the truth, but we know that Boeheim should not have said those things. However, Boeheim thought they were lies at the time. Just because he did that, does not mean he tolerates child abuse, nor does it mean he thought that if Fine did anything that it was acceptable. Boeheim has rightfully apologized. He will also probably face some sort of punishment from the University, most likely in a fine. Boeheim will also continue to take criticism which is fair in terms of his first statement. But did anything he say rise to the level of being fired from the University? Not at all. Nor is the argument of anything “happening on his watch” valid either. If he was notified by someone witnessing anything improper by Fine, then that would be valid. No one saw anything and then told Boeheim, nor did he see anything himself. Nor was it his responsibility to police coaches and players to the level that he would have seen anything happen. As Davis said himself, Boeheim wasn’t at the Fine home at 2am. Nor should he be expected to have been there. Davis knows that and most reasonable people do as well. If you are someone’s boss and they rob a bank after work, should you be fired? If you went on a business trip and he left the heist plan on a desk in their hotel room, were you supposed to search the room just because you’re their boss? I submit not. A reasonable person would submit not. Nor can anyone, not even CBS employees, extrapolate that Boeheim was saying that all abuse victims are lying. He was saying that these individuals were lying, convinced that if they were not something would have come up in 2005. Any sort of red flag. It didn’t. You can’t blame Boeheim for thinking what he thought at the time with the information he had. Again he did not have to make those statements and should be criticized, but clearly should not be fired. If everyone was fired for making dumb statements at some point even more people in this country would be unemployed. However, he is a public figure and a representative in name only to Syracuse, so he will need to face that, which he has in an apology that, written by him personally or not, still accurately relays his sentiment.
Supporting Boeheim also does not equal support for child abuse. To start, no one supports child abuse. Certainly John and I don’t. To say that saying Boeheim should keep his job is equal to supporting child abuse is not only wrong, but it is an argument that does not pass muster. Syracuse is not Penn State and any comparisons to the situation are made by people either ignorant of the facts or just plain incapable of reason.
The Syracuse Post-Standard so far has had excellent coverage of this, along with our friend Brent Axe on The Score 1260. ESPN has botched their own massive story already again, and other national columnists simply do not have the same context and sources that the people in Syracuse have. I remind you to consider that before forming opinions based on other’s opinions, including this notebook entry you currently are reading. Until the entire truth comes out, which I fear we may never know completely, things are not simple or cut and dry. But comparing Syracuse with any other school or any other situation is ridiculous. Unless there is a major new development this will probably be the only comment from the Lawdogs at Orange::44 until the investigation is complete. John and I still received top notch educations at Syracuse, and still enjoy everything about Syracuse. One employee does not represent a University with thousands of employees, nor does it their alumni, many of which are extremely distinguished. Syracuse University will continue to do what it does best; education. The sports programs will continue to succeed as well. This can happen to any school, any business, any employer. I’m sad it happened at Syracuse, and we will have to live with that knowledge. But am I worried about any tarnishing of the Syracuse name? From what I have seen from the university so far, not one bit.
We’ll return to our regular coverage of games and previews tomorrow as well all try to move on.
1. Orange::44: Cincinnati was in position to win the Big East again. Now it's a toss up. What happened?
Bearcat’s Blog: It's been a combination of things. The defense, which had played well most of the season (Tennessee excluded), has been gashed for huge yards the past couple of weeks. West Virginia put 400 on them. Rutgers, which hadn't run on anyone, ran for 200 yards. The kicking team has had a problem giving up blocked kicks this year, and they gave up a block on the tying attempt against West Virginia. The offense has sputtered with Zach Collaros on the sidelines. It's been a combination of things hammering UC at once, and it's been a little too much for them to overcome.
2. Orange::44: How big is the loss of Zach Collaros. Is your team done?
BB: It's gigantic. He wasn't just the quarterback, he was the offensive captain. To say UC was lost without him against Rutgers would be a lie. Munchie Legaux has talent, but he flat out hasn't played well. He's only hit 42% of his passes since Collaros got hurt. Rutgers keyed in on the running game, forcing Munchie to beat them, and he couldn't. Now, Butch Jones is putting in packages for Jordan Luallen and saying that the starting job is potentially open.
I don't know if UC is done, mainly because the schedule has gotten softer (sorry Cuse fans), but hopes of winning the Big East are fading away like Marty McFly's family when he was playing the guitar during the prom and his dad let the guy cut in on the dance.
3. Orange::44: Who is the best player on your team now that Collaros is done?
BB: Isaiah Pead. It was Isaiah Pead all season offensively. When Pead is getting yards, the Cincinnati offense has been tough to stop. When UC was in the Tennessee game in the first half, Pead had 130 yards. The rest of the game he had 22 and UC scored 9 points. He's been a threat in the passing game as well this season, but didn't get a ball thrown to him against Rutgers. The Pead 50 yard TD against Louisville turned that game, and is the only thing keeping the Cardinals from being the outright leaders.
Defensively the most talented player is Derek Wolfe. He's got 14.5 tackles for loss, 7 sacks and is a big reason why people haven't run the ball on UC. He's the only guy on the defense that seems like he could be in the NFL tomorrow.
JK Schaffer is the heart and soul of the defense though. He's among the Big East leaders in tackles. He is tied for the team lead in INTs and passes broken up, and he goes hard every play. Losing him would hurt the defense more than Collaros being hurt has changed the offense.
4. Orange::44: So who do you think is going to win the Big East now?
BB: West Virginia. They shouldn't lose to Pittsburgh or South Florida. I'm disappointed that they are back to having a great chance of winning the league. I would love to see Rutgers or Louisville win the league, just so people bitch and moan about the Big East having a team that is clearly inferior in a BCS game. I think the weird outrage people get about a team that isn't that good playing in a game they aren't going to watch is funny.
5. Orange::44: What scares you about this Syracuse team the most?
BB: I'm worried that Syracuse is going to play the same kind of game Rutgers did against the Bearcats. Run the ball down their throat, keep the defense on the field, go on long drives, and that they stop Isaiah Pead. I think Munchie Legaux could be a good QB next year, but I don't know how I feel if he's forced to win the game.
6. Orange::44: Admit it. Your team is losing on Saturday right?
BB: I will never admit any such thing. I will admit that it should be an interesting contest.
7. Orange::44: What is Cincinnati Basketball going to achieve this season?
BB: That's the question on a lot of people's minds. Obviously the loss to Presbyterian is a giant WARNING sign in some regards. The biggest test for his team is going to be their defense. If they defend well, they are going to win. If they don't, they are probably going to lose. Same as last year in that regard. Depth is a big issue. Starters have seen 30+ minutes a game against subpar competition, which is never a great thing to see. There is no one off the bench that seems like they are going to get theirs offensively, like Sean Kilpatrick last year. It's going to be an interesting year.
8. Orange::44: What is it about cooking shows that make them fascinating?
BB: I have no idea. I think some of it is because it's easy to judge from just looking at it. You can say "oh man that pasta is burnt to hell," and not sound like a moron. I think another part of it is that cooking is something that we all can do, and do somewhat well. Obviously it's not going to be top shelf material, but the average person could cook a good meal. Thrown in the competition aspect of things and it's got appeal. The fact it seems every other female cooking show host is hot is a plus. Most of the male hosts are insane, like whoever the Sweet Genius guy is, or they are complete a-holes, which draws in the viewer. And they are fun to watch, you can jump in at any time and know what's happening and they are on all the time.
Thanks to Scott for answering the questions and enjoying great television. You can follow him on twitter @cardscott5, along with the blog @BearcatsBlog. When you do, be sure to whish him a Happy Birthday today. You can read my answers to his questions here!
- The leading scorer for the Orange was Dion Waiters off the bench, who contributed 16 points in 26 minutes. Those 26 minutes were also a team-high for the game.
- Speaking of "off the bench," the entire active roster made it into this game. Collectively, the bench scored 60 points.
- That's right, the Syracuse bench outscored the Colgate TEAM 60-47.
- In addition to Waiters, the other huge contributor off the bench was James Southerland. Not only did he contribute the following line (14 points, 4 steals, 3 rebounds, and 2 blocks, all in 21 minutes), but he spearheaded one of the most exciting sequences I've ever seen in Syracuse basketball. More on that in the next bullet.
- The Syracuse defense employed the pressure for much of the game, trying to stay active, catch Colgate off guard, and create turnovers into fastbreak points. At no time was this more evident than just under the 9-minute mark in the first half. Southerland stole the ball and hit a jump shot. On the inbound attempt, CJ Fair stole the ball under the basket and tossed it in for the score. After a timeout by Colgate to regroup, another attempt to inbound under the basket was thwarted by James Southerland, who hit a 3-point jumper. After another inbound, Brandon Triche stole the ball, got it to Southerland, who made a lay-up. Then a foul on Scoop Jardine at the inbound led to another inbound attempt, which was stolen by Southerland who dunked it in. Colgate then called ANOTHER timeout to regroup. The next possession led to a Rakeem Christmas steal, and though he missed the layup, Fair came in for the offensive board and put in, for which he was fouled. By then we hit the under-8 media timeout. But wow. This description doesn't even do it justice. Go back and watch it yourself!
- In all, 13 Orangemen scored points. That's impressive, no matter who you're playing.
- The starters' time on the court was limited, with Christmas getting the most at 20 minutes. All starters returned to the floor to start the second half, except Kris Joseph, who we later learned was resting his knee after experiencing some soreness and stiffness. After the game, coach Jim Boeheim insisted Joseph could have played, but felt it was better to get him some rest so he'd be ready for the games Wednesday and Friday at Madison Square Garden.
- Fair started the 2nd in place of Joseph. CJ had a nice game, with 13 points in 18 minutes, also adding 2 rebounds, 2 steals, and a block. His game on both ends of the floor has been very consistent. He's a go-to player who doesn't create a lot of hype or attention, which I think makes him especially dangerous. It's great to have a player like that on the team.
- Michael Carter-Williams is also getting some huge playing time in these early contests, playing for 22 minutes in this one. While his stat sheet isn't impressive (3 points, 5 assists), he is active on the floor and is really good at making the opposition know he's out there. I worry sometimes that he plays a little too aggressive, and he can sometimes create some stupid fouls. However, these are, as they say, freshman mistakes. He'll learn, and be all the better for it.
- Scoop Jardine had a very un-Scoop-like game. In 16 minutes of action, he scored 11 points, grabbed 3 rebounds, had a steal and an assist, and -- this is the weird part -- had zero turnovers. Zero! Who knew that zero could be the hero?
- Colgate was simply outmatched on every aspect of this game. While their leading scorer Pat Moore had 19 points, it obviously didn't much matter. That's all the Colgate analysis you're getting from me.
- As we move in to seeing some tougher competition in New York City this week, we should continue to see what permutation of players Boeheim decides to use. Yes, the bench goes deep, and with it, the talent, but Boeheim won't be parading out the likes of Mookie Jones on a regular basis once the cupcakes are out of the way. Waiters, Keita, and Fair are the ones you'd anticipate getting most of the minutes off the bench, but with the way Southerland has been playing in these early games, how can you justify not playing him? We could very easily see a 9- or 10-man rotation deep into the season. And the best thing about it is, God forbid if a starter gets hurt, there's someone just as good on the bench who can step in and play like a starter.
- I, for one, am grateful that we have that to rely on.
Labels: Syracuse Basketball
Labels: Syracuse Basketball
- Your leading scorer for Fordham was Kris Joseph, hitting 6-12 and scoring 16. He also led the team against Albany with 19 points, hitting 8-14. Dion Waiters led the way against Manhattan off the bench with 17 points.
- Each game had a different rebounding leader. Fordam saw Brandon Triche pull down the most with seven. Manhattan saw the break out of Fab Melo grabbing nine, which was excellent to see. CJ Fair continued his excellent career in rebounding by leading for Albany with nine.
- Fab Melo led the Fordham and Manhattan games in blocks with four. Both Dion Waiters and James Southerland had two each in the Albany game.
- Kris Joseph and James Southerland seem to be the best at three point shooting, with Dion Waiters also doing well during the Manhattan game. All three have the ability to hit the long ball though.
- So far the most impressive player unexpectedly seems to be James Southerland, who has really shot the ball well, and has the ability to rebound and clean up around the glass.
- Fab Melo has really improved. So much so that he actually never fouled out of any games and was able to take some charges. His offense has greatly improved, along with his defense of just standing tall, not fouling.
- Biggest disappointment so far is Scoop Jardine. While his shooting has improved, his decision making is right on par with last season so far.