UF's Finney-Smith earns praise from former coach


Florida head coach Billy Donovan, second from right, speaks with Florida's Dorian Finney-Smith (10), Casey Prather (24), and Scottie Wilbekin (5) during a timeout in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game on Monday in Storrs, Conn. Connecticut won 65-64. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

Published: Monday, December 2, 2013 at 11:57 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, December 2, 2013 at 11:57 p.m.

STORRS, Conn. — ESPN college basketball analyst Seth Greenberg didn't need to do much prep work to talk about Florida sophomore forward Dorian Finney-Smith.

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Florida head coach Billy Donovan, second from right, speaks with Florida's Dorian Finney-Smith (10), Casey Prather (24), and Scottie Wilbekin (5) during a timeout in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game on Monday in Storrs, Conn. Connecticut won 65-64. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

Greenberg recruited and coached Finney-Smith at Virginia Tech for one season. Finney-Smith transferred from Virginia Tech to Florida after Virginia Tech fired Greenberg following the 2011-12 season.

“When he left us, he left us with a really good solid foundation defensively, which has been enhanced by what he's doing at Florida,” Greenberg said before calling Monday night's Florida-Connecticut game. “And his versatility, I think that's what makes him so good.”

The 6-foot-8 Finney-Smith displayed his versatility by grabbing an offensive rebound with 1.3 seconds left, getting fouled on a put-back attempt and hitting the game-deciding free-throw in Florida's 67-66 win Friday night over Florida State.

“He's got a great instinct to rebound the basketball,” Greenberg said. “Not the fastest guy, doesn't jump the highest, but he's hard to keep off the glass. He's an instinctive rebounder with long arms and feel.”

Finney-Smith entered Monday night's game against Connecticut averaging 11.8 points and 8.3 rebounds. But he struggled shooting against Florida State, going 2 of 12 from the field with three missed dunks. In his first five games with UF, Finney-Smith has shot 36.2 percent from the floor and 31.3 percent (5-16) from 3-point range.

“He's a better shooter than what he's shooting,” Greenberg said. “He needs to play through contact better and finish, and he had chances to finish against Florida State for sure. He's only going to get better. He's got a great feel for the game. He's a great kid. He'll only continue to get better.

Prather co-SEC player of week

Florida senior forward Casey Prather was named co-SEC player of the week for his performances against Jacksonville and Florida State.

Prather averaged 23 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2 assists in the two UF wins. He shared the award with Mississippi State junior Craig Sword.

Prather came into Monday night's game against Connecticut tied for fourth in the SEC in scoring at 19.1 points per game.

“He knows what we want and what we need from him and he's been playing with good pace and good patience,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said.

Familiar Face

Florida's coaching staff had some familiarity with a player in Connecticut's starting lineup. Connecticut junior forward DeAndre Daniels was recruited by Donovan out of IMG Academy in Bradenton, but opted to head north to play for the Huskies.

The 6-foot-9, 195-pound Daniels came into the matchup with Florida averaging 13.4 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.

“I really, really liked his skill level,” Donovan said. “He was 6-foot-9, he's a guy who probably has benefited by being in college a few years.

“I think a lot of times there's guys that have an impression they may be one and done. As a college coach being through it a long period of time, you realize certain guys that need more time than others. And he's a guy that I think has benefited from that and has probably put him in a position now to someday play in the NBA, because he is 6-9, he does shoot threes, he's a very skilled player that can do a lot of different things and has really grown in a lot of ways.”

Etc.

Point guard Kasey Hill made the trip to Connecticut, but did not play. … Sophomore guard DeVon Walker (sprained foot) returned to action after missing the Florida State game. Walker finished with no points and one steal in two minutes off the bench in the first half. … Scouts from six different NBA teams sat courtside for the game. Former Miami Heat point guard Tim Hardaway represented the Heat. Scouts also were in attendance from the Brooklyn Nets, Boston Celtics, Charlotte Bobcats, Washington Wizards and Denver Nuggets. … The 65-64 loss to Connecticut dropped Florida to 1-1 in games decided by five points or less and 3-10 in games decided by five points for less over the last two-plus seasons. … Connecticut, meanwhile, improved to 4-0 in games decided by five points or less. … Jay and Pavi Murphy, parents of former Gator forward Erik Murphy, attended the game with their youngest son, Thomas Murphy. A sophomore in high school, Thomas Murphy (6-7 and growing) has already received a number of scholarship offers, including one from Florida.

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