After missing three games while serving a suspension for an unspecified violation of team rules, redshirt junior forward Dorian Finney-Smith has been reinstated by head coach Billy Donovan ahead of Saturday’s game against the Tennessee Volunteers.
Finney-Smith, whose absence has played a role in Florida (13-15, 6-9 SEC) dropping two of its last three contests, is the Gators’ second-leading scorer and top rebounder, averaging 12.9 points and 5.8 boards per game. He’s also the most efficient all-around shooter on the team, hitting 47.5 percent of his field goals and 39.8 percent of his long-range attempts.
“He’s taken care of all his responsibilities and everything we’ve asked him to do,” Donovan said in a statement posted to the school’s website. “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.”
Donovan has not yet decided whether Finney-Smith will return to the starting lineup on Saturday.
The lowest-scoring Florida basketball team since 1950-51, the 2014-15 Gators are averaging just 64.3 points per game and were struggling to get the ball in the basket even with Finney-Smith – and still-injured junior guard Michael Frazier II (high-ankle sprain) – active.
UF has lost nine of its last 12 games dating back to Jan. 17, going from four games above .500 to two games below it. With just three games remaining before the postseason, Florida must win all three to avoid a posting losing record in the regular season for the first time since 1997-98.
During a media availability on Friday, Donovan noted that redshirt junior G Eli Carter is questionable for Saturday’s game
“I don’t know where Eli Carter’s going to be at [Saturday]. He’s got strep throat right now, did not practice [Thursday],” he said.
Carter, who is averaging 8.6 points per game while shooting just 35.8 percent from the field and 28.7 percent from beyond the arc, is battling strep throat for the second time this season and may not be able to suit up.
“My concern with him is, the last time he had this, it was like 10 days [out of action]. I’m hoping this is not as severe of a case as that, when he lost 13 points,” Donovan explained. “He started feeling poorly on Wednesday and then started to feel worse [Thursday]. They did a strep culture on him and it came back positive. We’ll just see how he’s feeling and what we can get out of him, if anything.”
Donovan also addressed the status of Frazier, who has missed six-straight games and is Florida’s leading scorer (13.2 points), three-point shooter (.401) and foul shot taker (.877) as well as the only returning starter from last season.
“Frazier, I still feel like he’s kind of in the same situation. He did try a little bit [Thursday] but he couldn’t do it; he wanted to try to give it a go,” Donovan noted. “He’s actually shooting the ball, and he’s running OK. The bigger issue is him starting and stopping; he still has pretty significant pain. I don’t feel great that that is going to go away between now and Saturday. For him, he wants to try it just to see where he is at. He tried to do a little bit [Thursday]; the trainer took him off the floor.”