Donovan: Finney-Smith available, Harris off team right now


Florida forward Dorian Finney-Smith is ready to return from suspension, but will unlikely play due to an illness.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Friday, November 15, 2013 at 3:07 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, November 15, 2013 at 3:07 p.m.

Florida forward Dorian Finney-Smith has been reinstated to the team, coach Billy Donovan announced Friday.

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Florida forward Dorian Finney-Smith is ready to return from suspension, but will unlikely play due to an illness.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer

Facts

Who: Arkansas Little-Rock Trojans (0-1) vs. No. 11 Florida (1-1)
When: Saturday, 4:30 p.m.
Where: O'Connell Center, Gainesville
Gainesville-area TV: FSN
Gainesville-area radio: AM-850, 103.7 FM

But it doesn't appear junior center Damontre Harris will be rejoining the Gators any time soon.

The 6-foot-10 Harris is “off the team” due to more disciplinary issues that have materialized in recent weeks, Donovan said.

“He's not even in practice right now,” Donovan said. “He's got a long, long way to go before he gets on the team.”

Donovan would not get into specifics about why Harris, a transfer from South Carolina, is still sidelined. Harris is currently working out away from the team and must meet a set of conditions before he can return to UF's practices.

“He's not a bad kid, but he's not accountable at all and he's not responsible enough to take care of the things he needs to take care of,” Donovan said. “And I've always believed this, if I can't expect somebody to be accountable off the floor, to do what they are supposed to do in all areas of their life, how can I expect them to guard a pick and roll, remember a play, to go get a rebound, to do those things if you can't be accountable there. It's not like you turn it on, turn it off.”

Finney-Smith will be available, but likely won't play when the Gators face Arkansas Little-Rock this afternoon at the O'Connell Center. The 6-foot-8, Virginia Tech transfer has missed UF's last two practices with a viral infection. More than likely, Finney-Smith's UF debut will come Monday when the Gators host Southern.

“I would anticipate right now he wouldn't play, but he is available if for some reason he had some kind of miraculous recovery or felt better,” Donovan said.

Finney-Smith, Harris and Florida senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin have been suspended since the beginning of the season for unspecified violation of team rules. A former McDonald's All-American from Portsmouth, Va., Finney-Smith averaged 6.3 points and 7.0 rebounds in his lone season at Virginia Tech before transferring to UF.

“He helps us defensively, obviously, with his length and his athletic ability, rebounding as well,” Florida senior center Patric Young said. “He also helps our offense as well because he's a very dynamic, versatile player. Being 6-7, being able to handle the ball as well as he can.”

The Gators played with a rotation of just seven scholarship players and one walk-on (Jacob Kurtz) during Tuesday night's 59-53 loss at Wisconsin. Sophomore scholarship guard Dillon Graham didn't play against Wisconsin and has been dealing with hip problems that have impacted his performance in practice. Guard Eli Carter (broken leg) and forward Will Yeguete (knee) also aren't playing at 100 percent.

Donovan said he thinks Finney-Smith's return will give the Gators more depth and flexibility in the frontcourt. It should also help with rebounding. Florida has been outrebounded in each of its first two games.

“I think everyone can get involved a little better,” Young said. “Guys can crash the boards a little bit better, fight through fatigue, those type of things.”

Young said he respects the stand Donovan has taken on discipline through the first few weeks of the season.

“He's been consistent with that, and he has never put any of his players in a situation where we have to make a decision on someone's discipline,” Young said. “He's created an environment where he lets us know what's going on the best we can and allows us to know that guys need to be held accountable and be held responsible.”

Said Donovan: “I'm not going to take these guys and use these guys to win games. I hope in some time, whenever their time is done here that they would say their time at Florida was challenging, it was difficult, but you know what, it prepared me for the real world.”

Donovan has not set a timetable for Wilbekin's return, but has been pleased with the strides that the Gainesville native has made on and off the court. Wilbekin has practiced with the Gators since mid-October.

“Scottie is totally different person,” Donovan said. “Totally different leader, totally different attitude. Totally different. The strides he has made, no one has obviously had a chance to see him play but for me as a coach, it's been very, very rewarding for me to see where he is.”

Contact Kevin Brockway at 352-374-5054 or brockwk@gvillesun.com. Also check out Brockway's blog at Gatorsports.com.

FLORIDA PROBABLE STARTERS

G DeVon Walker 6-6 So. 2.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg

G Kasey Hill 6-1 Fr. 9.5 ppg, 4.0 apg

F Casey Prather 6-6 Sr. 20.0 ppg, 6.5 rpg

F Will Yeguete 6-7 Sr. 5.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg

C Patric Young 6-9 Jr. 5.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg

UARL PROBABLE STARTERS

G J.T Thomas 6-1 RJr. 4.0 ppg, 4.0 apg

G Josh Hagins 6-1 So. 14.0 ppg, 4.0 apg

G Leroy Isler Sr. 6-5 12.0 ppg, 2.0 apg

F James White 6-8 RSo. 2.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg

C Will Neighbour 6-10 Sr. 12.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg

Notes: Coming off a 59-53 loss at Wisconsin, Florida returns to the O'Connell Center, where the Gators have won 16 straight games. … Florida is 108-6 against non-conference opponents in their last 12 seasons at the O'Connell Center. … Sophomore guard Michael Frazier II is shooting 60 percent from 3-point range (6 of 10) and averaging 19.5 points off the bench. … As a team, though, Florida is shooting 29.2 percent from 3-point range while giving up 40.9 percent. …. Arkansas-Little Rock returns four starters from a team that went 17-15 last season and 11-9 in the Sun Belt Conference. … Arkansas Little-Rock is coming off a 72-70 loss to North Florida in its home opener. … Walk-on forward Jacob Kurtz has averaged 23.5 minutes through UF's first two games. The 6-foot-6 forward from Oviedo has taken advantage of the increased playing time, averaging 2.5 points, 5.5 rebounds with one steal and one assist.

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