Orange 8-0, but they’re still not the story in Syracuse

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No. 4 Syracuse earned its biggest win of the season Friday night by holding off No. 10 Florida, 72-68. That makes the Orange 8-0 for the fourth straight season. Considering other contenders such as North Carolina and UConn already have a loss, it’s a solid start for a team with Final Four aspirations. (And no small feat given the Gators entered the game shooting lights out from beyond the arc. Credit Syracuse’s interior defense and a solid night by Scoop Jardine for this win.)

Yet, the focus still isn’t on Syracuse basketball. It’s still on ex-assistant Bernie Fine and the alleged sexual-molestation allegations that cost him his job earlier this week.

As the scandal continues to develop, the players keep playing. And head coach Jim Boeheim, who vigorously defended Fine when the news first broke two weeks ago, continues to apologize and play defense for his statements.

“I believe I misspoke very badly in my response to the allegations that have been made. I shouldn’t have questioned what the accusers expressed or their motives. I am really sorry that I did that, and I regret any harm that I caused,” he said during Friday’s press conference.

“It was insensitive for the individuals involved and especially to the overall issue of child abuse.”

Boeheim says he’ll do more than simply apologize from here on out, too. After talking to some Syracuse-area leaders, he’s extending himself beyond the court.

“I’m going to do everything I can to do that, whether I’m coaching or not coaching.”

That’s a necessary move for Boeheim, who’s under fire from various victims-rights groups. He says he’s not worried about his job status, but it’s not just about that. His legacy, reputation and public perception all took hits when lurid details emerged about Fine.

So while his team focuses on basketball, he’s focused on something more than sports. Some might say he should’ve been doing this long ago. Maybe. I’d say it’s better now than never.

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