SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- The Bernie Fine drama could become a major distraction for a Syracuse squad with the tools to win a national championship.
But other than their tribute on the sideline Saturday -- players tapped a vacant seat on the bench to acknowledge Fine in his absence -- players seemed oblivious to the situation when they were on the floor.
It’s hard to measure the Orange against Colgate.
But after watching Syracuse in person Saturday, I definitely added the squad to my “Wow ... how will any team guard [fill-in-the-blank] in March?” list.
As much as I appreciate an underdog, it appears that the road to the Final Four will go through some very talented, athletic, lengthy assemblies. Syracuse is one of those schools.
It’s arguably America’s deepest team. There are teams with better seven-man rotations. Not sure there’s a squad with a better, more balanced 10-man setup.
Syracuse runs the floor well. And it’s obviously known for its zone, one that’s going to put some so-so jump-shooting Top 25 teams in a bind.
The Orange forced 26 turnovers against Colgate. The latter couldn’t find driving lanes, open shots or layups.
But the Raiders shouldn’t feel bad. Syracuse will put other teams in prison with that “lock up” defense, too.
Scoop Jardine is a veteran leader with the support to compete for a Big East title and much more. He’ll have to be the guy to help players deal with the Fine situation, too. He fielded questions about the allegations against Fine for nearly 30 minutes after Saturday’s game.
North Carolina and Kentucky appear to be a notch above every other team in America right now. But Syracuse, UConn and Ohio State are right there. And they all possess the kind of frontcourt talent necessary to compete with the Tar Heels and Wildcats.
Syracuse’s depth, however, is an element that few, if any, teams in the country can match.