Following a 22-point, 15-rebound effort at Arkansas, Dorian Finney-Smith could have easily assumed that he would remain in the starting lineup against Georgia.
After all, no other player in 17-plus seasons under Florida coach Billy Donovan had ever finished with 20 points or more and 15 rebounds or more in a Southeastern Conference road game.
But on Tuesday, Finney-Smith returned to his bench role against Georgia. Donovan opted to go with a three-guard starting lineup (Scottie Wilbekin-Michael Frazier-Kasey Hill) to match Georgia’s quickness on the perimeter.
Following the Georgia game, Finney-Smith said he understood his coach’s decision.
“It really doesn’t matter,” Finney-Smith said. “We’ve got a team filled with great players. I just want to get in and play. When coach put me in i just had to come up with energy. If that means coming off the bench, so be it. I like it.”
Finney-Smith has started just two games for the Gators this season, but he’s essentially getting starting minutes. The 6-foot-8 Virginia Tech transfer is averaging 25.6 minutes per game, more than starting power forward Will Yeguete (24.3 minutes per game). In 14 games, Finney-Smith has posted two doubles-doubles, scoring 11.1 points and averaging a team-high 7.8 rebounds per game.
On Monday, Donovan was asked if he is considering moving Finney-Smith ahead of Yeguete in the starting lineup at power forward. Yeguete has struggled on and off coming back from offseason knee surgery, but posted his most productive game of the season Tuesday night against Georgia with 12 points and 6 rebounds.
“Sometimes it has to do with being a senior maybe a little bit, the fact that those guys have paid their price,” Donovan said of starting Yeguete over Finney-Smith. “Now if I’ve got a younger guy that really is outperforming, outplaying, outworking the older guy, then he earns the right. But I think you look at our frontcourt as a collective group of guys. So I’m not really that wrapped up in the starting players as the guys are.”