Dorian Finney-Smith was supposed to be an integral part of Florida’s offense this season. The ex-Virginia Tech addition was highly-pursued when he announced his transfer, and the mix of his shooting touch and size helped conjure visions that Finney-Smith would be the next Gator stretch-4 to propel the offense. However, through the first few months of the season, that promise didn’t materialize — during the month of February, a span of six contests, Finney-Smith missed 18 three-pointers before finally converting one attempt (on February 22nd).
Since that three-point make, which came in a win over Ole Miss, Finney-Smith’s game has been ascendant. The forward made 44 percent of his threes through the SEC tournament, and his ability to stretch a defense with his shooting as well as off the bounce has provided coach Billy Donovan with several offensive options. Florida isn’t known for its size — Patric Young and Will Yeguete are the only other Gators who stand taller than 6-foot-8 — so an effective Finney-Smith not only boosts the team’s scoring, he provides a height infusion. When he is connecting from deep, UF’s halfcourt spacing is much improved, with not only helps Young in the post, but also the Gators’ backcourt on dribble drives.
In the NCAA tournament, Finney-Smith has been the consummate role player; Florida doesn’t often dip into the bench — Kasey Hill and Finney-Smith are essentially the only Gators who see significant minutes — and the forward will need to continue contributing offensively to propel the Gators’ title run. His perimeter attempts haven’t been dropping, but he is making his twos — 56 percent from within the arc — and the ten points Finney-Smith dropped last night against UCLA helped fuel the team’s 1.13 points per possession.
One of the biggest storylines of Saturday’s college basketball schedule had everything to do with a team that no longer matters in the championship picture.
Less than 24 hours after being informed that the school would be imposing a postseason ban that will leave the Cardinals out of the ACC and NCAA tournaments, No. 19 Louisville tipped off against Boston College, and they did so without leading scorer Damion Lee, who is battling a knee issue.
How would the team respond to the decision — the despicable, shameful decision — that the university’s president made?
Well, it seems.
The Cardinals jumped out to a 19-2 lead in the first eight minutes and cruised to a 79-47 win over an overmatched Boston College team in the Yum! Center.
And head coach Rick Pitino, after the quote, said exactly what everyone is thinking.
“We should be penalized, no question about it,” he said. “But not this team. But the NCAA didn’t make that decision. We made that decision.”
He’s totally right. The school sacrificed the season — and the only shot that a pair of fifth-year seniors would get to play in the NCAA tournament — to protect the school, the brand and the bottom-line moving forward. Like I said earlier, it’s despicable.
But credit the Cardinals for responding.
Because they still have something on the line. They’re just a game out of first place in the ACC, and while an ACC regular season title isn’t a shot to play in the ACC or NCAA tournament, it’s still a banner that would probably mean more to Damion Lee and Trey Lewis than any league title has meant to a Louisville player before.
Oklahoma State’s star point guard was not in the lineup on Saturday against No. 13 Iowa State.
Evans injured his shoulder in the Cowboys’ loss at Texas Tech on Wednesday and was ruled out of Saturday’s game.
According to the school, his official status moving forward is questionable. The Pokes are just 11-11 on the season and likely need to earn the Big 12’s at-large bid to get into the NCAA tournament. It makes sense to let him get healthy.
Evans was averaging 12.9 points, 4.9 assists and 4.4 boards this season, but he had been arguably the best point guard in the Big 12 during league play, averaging 15.6 points and 5.6 assists.