The Dag Bag – Bernie Fine & Syracuse vs. Florida

Well, we can’t get out of this column without throwing my two cents in on the Bernie Fine situation. Admittedly, I’ve pored over the details enough to be sick of thinking about it, talking about it, and thinking about where else this thing could go. So, I’ll give you my short-hand take on things:

1. Count me among the folks that agree this situation is different than what’s going on over at Penn State. The Sandusky case has grand jury legal-ese, charges and there is a criminal indictment. AS OF NOW, the Fine investigation hasn’t reached that point yet.

2. That phone call between Bobby Davis and Laurie Fine sounded pretty damning for Bernie. I mean…if your own wife isn’t sticking up for you, there aren’t many people out there who are. That has proven to be the smoking gun for Fine’s termination and may ultimately prove to be the smoking gun for this whole case.

3. TO THIS POINT, Syracuse University (specifically Nancy Cantor) has handled this whole ordeal very well, overall. They seemingly have been honest, forthcoming, and cooperative in an effort to get to the bottom of this. That’s not to say I have agreed with everything that has been done along the way. That Jim Boeheim press conference the other night after the Eastern Michigan game had me saying, “Easy, Coach, don’t say something that might come back to bite you” as much as I was saying, “Coach Boeheim is handling this the way I would want him to handle it.” He has a knack for getting close to the line with his words, but stopping just short of crossing that line. He’s turned that into an art form over 36 years as coach. I just don’t want him to play with fire in a delicate, sensitive situation like this.

I use the phrases “as of now” and “to this point” because we don’t know WHAT’S coming around that corner next. Who would’ve seen that phone conversation coming this past weekend? Yikes. All we can go by now is what we have in front of us. There is surely more to come, however much we wanna cringe at that thought. How much more? How damning will it be? Hopefully the answer to both those questions is “very little.” But, in the meantime, the Syracuse family waits with bated breath.

On to more pleasant topics…

The Syracuse basketball team could use a sunnier outlook these days. And while it may not be going to see the sunny skies of Florida, it will be hosting the Gators of Florida on Friday night. As part of the Big East/SEC Challenge, this matchup is one of the marquee matchups of the week, pitting the No. 3 Orange against the No. 9 Gators.

Recent history tells us Syracuse has matched up pretty well against Florida, beating the Gators in both 2008 and 2009. This year, Florida’s roster may be better-equipped to handle Syracuse’s zone than in past years. With a four-guard look, Florida can get out and go with a quickness. Junior Kenny Boynton leads the way, averaging 18.5 PPG. Freshman Bradley Beal (17 PPG) has garnered plenty of early-season attention. Erving Walker (13.7 PPG) and Rutgers transfer Mike Rosario (12 PPG) round out as good a guard quartet as you’re going to find.

If the Orange had to chase those guards around in a man-to-man defense all night, I’d say the Orange might be in for a long night. With that 2-3 zone, though, Syracuse is better suited to handle Florida’s quickness. You know a Billy Donovan team will be uptempo and try to ratchet up the defensive pressure. However, Syracuse’s talent and size should be enough to get a third straight victory against Florida. The Orange should have a big advantage down low and on the glass. I’d like to see somebody (Scoop? Kris Joseph?) step up and have a big, take-charge kind of performance and give 20-plus points and close to a double-double.

And hopefully, the home court advantage will be palpable, as this might be just what the doctor ordered for a fan base looking for something to cheer the heck out of and get its mind off investigations and the “he said, she said” of the last couple weeks.

This should be a fun one. Syracuse is No. 3 in the nation. Unfortunately, we aren’t truly able to enjoy that fact because of all the other stuff swirling around in the news.

Matt Dagostino currently works as an on-air talent and producer for Turner Sports in Atlanta. Among his responsibilities are voicing over highlights for NCAA.com, NBA.com, WNBA.com, and PGA.com. He has also served as an associate producer for TNT’s coverage of the NBA Playoffs and TBS’s coverage of the MLB Postseason. Matt also has experience as a minor league baseball play-by-play announcer and as a PA announcer in D-I college athletics.

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Matt Dagostino

About Matt Dagostino

Matt currently works as an on-air talent and producer for Turner Sports in Atlanta, where he is from. Among his responsibilities are voicing over highlights for NCAA.com, NBA.com, WNBA.com, and PGA.com. He has also served as an associate producer for TNT’s coverage of the NBA Playoffs and TBS’s coverage of the MLB Postseason. Matt also has experience as a minor league baseball play-by-play announcer and as a PA announcer in D-I college athletics. Matt graduated from Syracuse University in 2005. Follow him on Twitter @MattDags28.
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