Dorian Finney-Smith

Dorian Finney-Smith finishes with 17 points, nine boards in debut for No. 11 Florida

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It took a while, but once No. 11 Florida’s pressure started taking effect, Colgate’s upset bid disappeared, as they lost 86-56 after being tied at the half.

The Gators got another monster performance from Casey Prather, who has been phenomenal early on this season, as he went for 27 points, five boards and five assts. Kasey Hill finished with 14 points, six assists and five steals in the win as well.

But the most notable performance came from one of Billy Donovan’s big men, and it wasn’t Patric Young.

Playing in his first game of the season for the Gators after being suspended for the first two, Dorian Finney-Smith went for 17 points and nine boards, with five coming on the offensive end of the floor while shooting 5-for-10 from the field and 3-of-4 from beyond the arc. It was an impressive performance that didn’t come close to showcasing the full versatility of Finney-Smith’s game.

It’s also all the more important given the relative struggles of Young early on this season. Florida’s muscle-bound center had 10 points, eight boards and two blocks against Colgate, all three of which were season-highs. If the Gators aren’t going to be getting consistent production out of Young, they need to get it from somewhere. Damontre Harris is still suspended, Chris Walker may not get eligible at all this season, and Will Yeguete seems to get injured simply by tying his shoes.

Getting production — and perimeter shooting — out of Finney-Smith is a key for the Gators as the season progresses.

Syracuse receives mixed news on sanctions appeals

Jim Boeheim
Associated Press
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Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two¬†appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.

On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.

One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.

As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).

And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.

While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.

And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.

St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe cleared by NCAA

Chris Mullin
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.

Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.

St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.

The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?