GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- “DoeDoe” is a go-go.
Florida forward Dorian Finney-Smith, the 6-foot-8 sophomore transfer by way of Virginia Tech, will suit up today and make his Florida debut when the 11th-ranked Gators (1-1) face Arkansas-Little Rock (0-1) at the O’Connell Center.
The status of Finney-Smith, who goes by the nickname “DoeDoe,” was in doubt even after Coach Billy Donovan reinstated his player following a three-game suspension to start the season. A viral infection had Finney-Smith in bed the last three days, but he felt well enough Saturday morning to take part in the team’s pre-game shoot-around and came to the coaches asking to play.
“I gotta try,” Finney-Smith told GatorZone.com as he threw some shots up after practice. “Been waiting too long for this.”
Finney-Smith sat out the entire 2012-13 season after leaving Virginia Tech, where was named to the Atlantic Coast Conference All-Freshman team after averaging 6.3 points and 7.0 rebounds a game. He spent last year working on the UF scout squad and was suspended by Donovan for one exhibition and two regular-season games for violating team rules to start his first season of eligibility.
Donovan reinstated Finney-Smith to the team Wednesday, but he did not practice Thursday or Friday.
“I don’t know what we’re going to get out of him,” Donovan told GatorZone after the shoot-around. “Maybe he plays 10 minutes, maybe 15. We’ll see how he feels.”
In addition to popping a few jumpers during practice, Finney-Smith also popped a few throat lozenges. He’s lost a few pounds over the last week.
Still, trainer David “Duke” Werner said the various blood work and tests administered by the team came back negative and that Finney-Smith was “fully cleared” by the medical staff.
“He’s excited and he wants to play. He’s also still sick, so there’s definitely some adrenaline at work there now,” Donovan said. “Even if he doesn’t get much time, he’ll be dressed out and on the bench with the the team in a game for the first time in a long, long time.”