Updated on Sunday at 11 p.m.
No. 7 Florida Gators basketball (1-0) may be without the reigning SEC Sixth Man of the Year for its Monday showdown with the Miami Hurricanes (1-0) as the program announced Saturday that redshirt junior forward Dorian Finney-Smith has been diagnosed with a hairline fracture in his left, non-shooting hand.
Finney-Smith suffered the injury – initially believed to be a sprain – early in Florida’s 68-45 win over William & Mary on Friday. After heading to the locker room for tests and a wrap, he returned to the court and led the Gators with 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting to go along with five rebounds, a steal and an assist.
X-rays were done after the game, but the results were not released until Saturday. On Sunday, head coach Billy Donovan noted that Finney-Smith has “two hairline fractures on two fingers,” though the injury should not affect his ability to play if he feels up to it.
“Right now, he is cleared to play. The biggest thing they were concerned about was, if the fracture was lower in his knuckle, they were worried about possible ligament or cartilage damage where, if he got hurt again, it could require surgery. But we are beyond that right now. So, he is cleared to play,” Donovan said.
“We’re going into the game not expecting to get very much from him … because he’s going to have to wear a brace on his hand. He was in significant pain on Friday – just catching the basketball, passing the basketball, dribbling the basketball. It’s not his wrist, it’s his two fingers – his middle finger and index finger. With a hairline fracture, it’s probably going to be a month before he starts to feel a lot better.”
Donovan said Finney-Smith may not practice with Florida “for the next two or three weeks,” which means even if he does play in games, he would come off the bench for the Gators. Redshirt senior walk-on F Jacob Kurtz would probably start in his place on Friday.
“The thing of him being cleared to play is much more about the fact that there’s not going to necessarily be any more damage to his hand. They were very worried about the ligament and the cartilage. If there is any injury to that, then he could be in a situation where if he got hit again or landed on it funny again, now you’re talking about the ligament ripping the bone off. Now you’re talking about having to do surgery and all of this stuff. The doctors wanted to make sure [that wouldn’t happen],” explained Donovan.
“He’s got two hairline breaks in his hand that are basically pain-tolerable injury. If he can’t catch the ball and he can’t handle the ball and pass the ball and do those kinds of things, it become very difficult to play him. I think we have to go into the game expecting with this happening two days ago. I’m all into the healing, but I don’t think that he’s going to be feeling much like he did on the game on Friday.”
Honored as a Preseason All-SEC First Team selection by the league’s coaches, Finney-Smith is one of Florida’s most important players for the 2014-15 campaign.
His injury and potential absence against Miami, which Donovan will address in his next media availability on Sunday, would be a blow for the Gators, which are already dealing with an undersized roster.
Florida sophomore F Chris Walker will be serving the last of a three-game suspension on Monday, and UF will not be able to add redshirt sophomore F Alex Murphy (a mid-year transfer in 2013-14) to the fold until the end of the fall semester.
The Gators will host the Hurricanes at 7 p.m. in the friendly confines of the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida. The game will air live nationally on ESPNU.
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