Dorian Finney-Smith

AP Photo

Florida forward Dorian Finney-Smith to return for final season of eligibility

Leave a comment

After leading the team in both scoring and rebounding this season, Florida redshirt junior forward Dorian Finney-Smith was thought to be considering the possibility of passing up his final season of eligibility. Thursday it was announced by the school that Finney-Smith has decided to return to Gainesville for his final year of eligibility, giving the Gators some experience in the front court.

“I feel like we’ll have a great team coming back and we’re going to do what it takes to lift the program back and play basketball the Florida culture way,” Finney-Smith said according to the school. “I got better, but it was a learning experience being a leader. Now, I’m anxious to build on everything I learned.”

Finney-Smith, a second team All-SEC selection, averaged 13.1 points and 6.2 rebounds per game for the Gators this season. Florida’s 16-17 record was their first losing season since 1997-98, and issues such as depth and inconsistency were present throughout. Florida adds USF transfer John Egbunu to the front court rotation next season, and they also have big men Noah Dickerson and Kevarrius Hayes as players who have signed a national letter of intent.

In total Florida has four commitments in the Class of 2015, with guard KeVaughn Allen and forward Keith Stone being the others. Among the other returnees Florida should have are rising juniors Kasey Hill and Chris Walker, with Michael Frazier II having already decided to enter the 2015 NBA Draft.

Florida reinstates junior forward following three-game suspension

AP Photo
Leave a comment

After being suspended three games for a violation of team rules, Florida redshirt junior forward Dorian Finney-Smith has been reinstated ahead of the team’s game against Tennessee on Saturday. Head coach Billy Donovan announced the news Friday afternoon in his press conference ahead of Saturday’s game.

Florida went 1-2 in the three games Finney-Smith missed, with the lone win coming at home against Vanderbilt February 18. Finney-Smith is currently averaging 12.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game this season, and for a team that has struggled offensively all season his return should help Florida moving forward.

And while Donovan did say that Finney-Smith has taken care of what he needed to in order to return, there’s still the need for the junior to step forward in the commitment department.

“He’s taken care of all his responsibilities and everything we’ve asked him to do,” Donovan said Friday. “I still feel like he needs to understand that when it comes to some of the choices he’s made there are other people affected by it. From my perspective, he’s got to earn back some trust from our team and show a higher level of commitment, especially being an older guy.”

Florida, which is 13-15 on the season, needs to finish strong in order to be considered for a Postseason NIT berth. The Gators have struggled with inconsistency throughout the season, one that they entered with hopes of challenging Kentucky for SEC supremacy.

Florida starting forward suspended indefinitely for violation of team rules

AP Photo
Leave a comment

Having lost seven of their last nine games ahead of Wednesday’s matchup with Vanderbilt, the last thing Florida needed was another personnel issue. However that’s exactly what head coach Billy Donovan has to deal with, as it was announced Wednesday afternoon that redshirt junior forward Dorian Finney-Smith has been suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules.

Finney-Smith, who has started 20 of the 23 games he’s played in this season, is averaging 12.9 points and a team-best 5.8 rebounds per game.

Without Finney-Smith, players such as Devin Robinson and Alex Murphy stand to see even more minutes against the Commodores, who can throw multiple interior options at Florida. Both players will need to be more productive than they were in the first meeting between the two teams, a 67-61 Vanderbilt victory February 3.

Robinson and Murphy combined to account for eight points and four rebounds, with Finney-Smith (four points, four rebounds) struggling as well.

Weekly Awards: No. 18 Northern Iowa’s Seth Tuttle shines in win over Wichita State

AP
1 Comment
source:
Seth Tuttle (AP Photo)

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Seth Tuttle, Northern Iowa

Northern Iowa became the first team in nearly two years to hand Wichita State a loss in Missouri Valley play, beating the Shockers 70-54 on Saturday afternoon in Cedar Falls. Seth Tuttle was the star for Ben Jacobson’s club, finishing with 29 points on 9-for-13 shooting as he continually beat slower Shocker big men off the dribble. Tuttle also scored 13 points in a win at Southern Illinois earlier in the week.

Tuttle is the best player on the Panthers, and if they end up winning the MVC regular season title, he’ll have a very strong argument for being the league’s Player of the Year over the likes of Ron Baker and Fred Van Vleet. The question now is whether or not UNI is the favorite to win the league. Saturday was quite the statement, but UNI has already lost a game in the MVC and still has to go to Wichita this season. Beating Wichita State at home in the biggest game of the year in the league is one thing. Winning on the road with the league title on the line is another.

THE ALL ‘THEY WERE GOOD, TOO’ TEAM

  • Sterling Gibbs, Seton Hall: Seton Hall bounced back from three straight losses to beat Marquette and Xavier this week. Gibbs averaged 23.0 points and 9.0 assists in the two games.
  • Dorian Finney-Smith, Florida: Finney-Smith finished with 16 points, nine boards and four assists as Florida picked up a critical win over Arkansas on Saturday, which followed his game-winning poster in a win at Alabama during the week.
  • Jared Terrell, Rhode Island: The Rams landed two key wins in the Atlantic 10 race this week, and Terrell was the star. He had 18 at Fordham and followed that up with 17 as URI beat George Washington.
  • Ty Greene, USC-Upstate: Greene scored 61 points in a pair of road wins for the Spartans. He had 39 points at North Florida.
  • Ryan Spangler, Oklahoma: The Sooners moved above .500 in the Big 12 with a pair of wins this week, including a road win against Oklahoma State. Spangler had 13 points, nine boards and six assists against the Pokes.
  • Notables: Derrick Marks (Boise State), Montrezl Harrell (Louisville)

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Richmond Spiders

Richmond landed a massive win over the weekend, as they went into the Siegel Center and knocked off their arch rival, VCU, 64-55. Kendall Anthony had 22 points in the win, which followed a 22-point win over Duquesne. The Spiders are not yet in the mix for an at-large berth, but the two wins this week did move them into a tie with four other teams with three losses in A-10 play, just two games behind VCU.

THEY WERE GOOD, TOO

  • Ohio State: The Buckeyes followed up a win over Indiana last weekend by blowing out Maryland at home on Thursday night. Thad Matta’s club looks like they may be the second-best team in the Big Ten right now.
  • UCLA: Is UCLA’s season finally on the right track? The Bruins swept the Mountain schools at home this weekend, blowing out Utah and knocking off Colorado.
  • Purdue: The Boilermakers are now 6-3 in the Big Ten thanks to wins over Indiana and at Northwestern.
  • Texas A&M: The Aggies have now won six straight games in the SEC after beating both Auburn and Vanderbilt this week. A&M is all alone in second place in the conference, two games behind Kentucky.
  • Louisville: The Cardinals won a pair of games this week, knocking off Boston College on the road and following that up with a come-from-behind, overtime win overtime win against North Carolina. The Cards erased an 18-point second half deficit.
  • Notables: SMU, Louisiana Tech

Two key Florida players declared questionable for Battle 4 Atlantis

Angel Rodriguez ,Eli Carter,Manu Lecomte
Leave a comment

Friday night a shorthanded Florida squad needed overtime to avoid an upset bid by ULM, and it’s safe to say that isn’t the way in which head coach Billy Donovan wanted to go into next week’s Battle 4 Atlantis. Saturday evening the school gave updates on the status of two key players they played last night’s game without, junior guard Eli Carter and junior forward Dorian Finney-Smith.

Finney-Smith also sat out the Gators’ home loss to Miami on Monday night after suffering two hairline fractures in his left (non-shooting) hand in Florida’s season-opening win over William & Mary. According to the Gainesville Sun, the school has announced that both players are questionable for the Battle 4 Atlantis with an MRI revealing that Carter’s injury is a mid-foot sprain.

Carter’s updated status is good news for Florida, as the MRI rules out a Lisfranc injury that was feared earlier in the week. As for Finney-Smith, his issues aren’t solely health-related according to Chris Harry of Gatorzone.com:

But Finney-Smith, who went for 15 points and five rebounds in the opener,, has some academic issues to clear up, according to Coach Billy Donovan, who told the 6-foot-8 standout to stay away from the team — except for rehab with the trainers — until his classroom issues were taken care of.

Florida opens Battle 4 Atlantis play with a game against Georgetown on Wednesday, and they could face either No. 3 Wisconsin or UAB on Thursday. Also among the teams in the event are No. 6 North Carolina and No. 19 Oklahoma.

No. 8 Florida needs overtime to defeat Louisiana-Monroe, 61-56

Getty Images
1 Comment

Until this week, No. 8 Florida hadn’t lost on its home floor in 33 games. Friday night, the Gators almost suffered a second home loss in five days, as Louisiana-Monroe led by a dozen in the first half and later stormed back in the last minute to tie the game and force overtime. However, it was in the extra frame where shorthanded Florida pulled away from a 61-56 victory.

Free throws from Michael Frazier II put Florida up 51-43 with two minutes left, looking like the Gators had avoided the upset bid from their Sun Belt opponent. Nick Coppola had different plan, scoring five of his 11 points in the final 90 seconds — assisting on a 3-point field goal in that span — to force overtime.

Jon Horford had the only Florida field goal in overtime, as the Gators closed out the game from the line.

This was the second time this week, Florida coughed up a late-game lead, only this time the Gators regrouped to pick up a win. On Monday, Miami guard Angel Rodriguez lead the charge, scoring 22 of his 24 points with under nine minutes to play, in a come-from-behind win for the Hurricanes. Blowing a lead to Miami, especially given the zone Rodriguez was in is one thing, but to ULM — even without two starters — is a concern for Florida moving forward.

Following the game, Billy Donovan told reporters in the post-game press conference, “This is the team we’re taking to the Bahamas,” which would mean the Gators are going to the toughest early-season tournament without Dorian Finney-Smith or Eli Carter, who missed Friday’s game with a foot injury. In order to survive that field, the undermanned Florida team will need more out of Kasey Hill, who is shooting 3-of-21 from the field over his last two games with 10 assists and seven turnovers. They’ll also need rely heavily on Chris Walker, who recorded four points and six boards in 25 minutes in his season debut on Friday.

It won’t get easier when Florida returns to campus, as the Gators kick off December with a road game against Kansas.

Florida will have plenty of time to get its full roster on the floor — Duke transfer Alex Murphy isn’t eligible until the second semester — and it’s a long season to sort out its issues, but this week could be the beginning of a tough stretch for Donovan and Co.