Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan has spent much of the last year doing his best to lower expectations for redshirt sophomore forward Dorian Finney-Smith, a transfer form Virginia Tech who sat out the 2012-13 season.
Many believe Finney-Smith, who averaged 6.3 points and 7.0 rebounds as a true freshman in 2011-12, can be a catalyst for Florida, a player athletic and versatile enough to help the Gators make major noise on the national landscape this season.
Donovan is not convinced, at least not yet.
“I think he’s just been OK,” he said of Finney-Smith on Tuesday.
“I think there’s a lot of expectations on him. When you get a chance to see and be around a player every single day, especially for a year, you kind of have an idea [about his] strengths, weaknesses and areas he’s got to get better in. I think he’s one of those guys that’s got to get better right now.”
Due to injury and illness, Florida is only practicing with seven scholarship players at this time, and Finney-Smith is working in an unfamiliar role – starter.
“His attitude’s been great. But I do think … it’s a little bit easier to function [as a complimentary player]. Now, where all those guys are gone, we’re dealing with some injuries, there’s more that’s fallen on his plate,” Donovan said.
“I don’t want to say he has not handled that well, but I do think that he’s got to get better and he’s got to get better for our team and for himself. But he’s practiced fine. No problems with his attitude or work ethic there. He just needs to be performing better. I think he needs to compete at a higher level.”
Asked during UF’s media day what he brings to the table, Finney-Smith boasted about his versatility but only mentioned scoring as an aside.
“Toughness, defense, rebounds, just try to do all the little things it takes to win,” he said. “Whatever it takes, if it takes scoring, I’ll do that. I’ll just do whatever it takes to win.”
Donovan concurred with that analysis on Wednesday…with a caveat.
“I think with him, he’s a multi-faceted guy that can do a lot of different things. I don’t necessarily mean from a scoring standpoint. I mean more just in terms of he has the ability to impact the game with his defense. He has the ability to impact the game with his rebounding. He can impact the game with his passing, putting it on the floor.
“But I think he needs to play with a much better motor. He’s been up and down. I don’t want to make it seem like he hasn’t [been trying]. He needs to impact practice a lot more with his motor. … Doe-Doe has got an offensive game and he shoots it pretty decent, he can put it on the floor. He can post up, do some different things. But his motor has got to get much, much better than it is right now.”
Luckily for Finney-Smith, Donovan and the Gators, there are still three more weeks of practice until Florida takes the court for its first regular season game against North Florida set for Friday, Nov. 8 at 3 p.m.
Photo Credit: Daily Press