Boeheim’s apology caps positive night for Syracuse program

For the second time this week, as expected, the story at the Carrier Dome on a game night centered around Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim's postgame comments rather than the game itself.

On Friday night, following his team's 72-68 victory over No. 10 Florida, Boeheim apologized publicly for harshly questioning the motives of those who accused now-former Orange associate head coach Bernie Fine of molesting them as minors.

His vehement defense of Fine two weeks ago, in which he took charge at his longtime friend and co-worker's accusers. On Tuesday, two days after Fine was fired, he deviated from a prepared written statement and went on the defensive.

After those two highly criticized public appearances, Boeheim showed the sincerity and compassion on Friday that many had waited to see.

"I believe I misspoke very badly in my response to the allegations that have been made," a visibly emotional Boeheim said. "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. It was insensitive for the individuals involved and especially to the overall issue of child abuse."

Boeheim went on to share that he spent time on Thursday at the McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center in Syracuse — an organization he had previously raised money for — in an effort to take a more active role in raising awareness of the issue.

Lost in the shuffle, though, is the fact that his team continues to keep the ongoing investigation of Fine and all of the residual mess it has caused from becoming a derailing distraction. Smashing Eastern Michigan on Tuesday night was one thing, but holding off Florida on Friday was another. {YSP:MORE}

While Florida failed to successfully or consistently penetrate Syracuse's 2-3 zone, the Orange's individual pieces played their parts wonderfully, led by senior guard Scoop Jardine. He went for 16 points, seven assists, four rebounds and four steals in 31 minutes, and was incredibly composed down the stretch while triggering several key plays.

Meanwhile, Fab Melo was productive in the paint, Brandon Triche complemented Jardine well in the backcourt with a team-high 20 points and C.J. Fair was again excellent off of the bench with nine points and a game-high 11 boards.

Against its toughest competition yet, Syracuse looked like a team deserving of the No. 4 ranking in the nation. And now, at 8-0, Boeheim's team has a good opportunity to continue to roll for a bit. Outside of a Dec. 17 trip to face North Carolina State, the rest of the Orange's non-conference schedule is filled with games they should win. They won't face a team currently in the Top 25 until hosting Marquette on Jan. 7.

And though the Fine situation will continue to simmer in the background, Boeheim's delivery at Friday's postgame press conference will likely keep it from continually resurfacing as the story following every game his team plays moving forward, providing a form of closure on the subject between him and the media for the time being.

Put simply, while it may have taken a couple of weeks to happen, it was the positive night for Syracuse's basketball program both on and off of the floor that it sorely needed.

Follow Ryan Greene on Twitter: @ryanmgreene

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