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Sunday January 12, 2014Basket Blog: 'Doe-Doe,' beards, boards, streaks, tweets, etc.

Updated: 6:51pm, January 12

DoeGAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Dorian Finney-Smith sat out the 2012-13 season under NCAA transfer rules. After making an impact as a freshman at Virginia Tech, a coaching change there prompted him to look for a change of scenery. He opted for Florida, which had recruited him hard during his prep years in Portsmouth, Va.

“I wish I’d come here out of high school,” Finney-Smith said.

Instead, the kid called “Doe-Doe” came here from Hokie Lan, did a year on the UF scout team and at times flashed like the best player on the practice floor. Gators coach Billy Donovan and his staff certainly appreciated the work Finney-Smith was put in -- while not being able to play in games -- but did not have to coach him, per se.

That all changed this season. For Donovan, finding the right buttons to push with Finney-Smith has been a challenge. Donovan coaches one way -- hard -- but he also coaches to his players' personalities and he needed some time to witness Finney-Smith’s vulnerabilities with his confidence.

So the last couple days, Donovan didn’t focus so much on Finney-Smith’s inconsistent motor and how he tends to take a play off here and there or lose his man on defense. Instead, Donovan pumped the guy up, telling him how much he believed in him and to stop worrying about making mistakes.

“He always tells me that I deserve to play well,” Finney-Smith said. “That I put the work in and that he has confidence in me and my teammates have confidence -- and to just go play.”

That was the message to Finney-Smith before his second start of the season Saturday at Arkansas. All Donovan got was a stuffed stat line of 22 points, 15 rebounds, 3-for-7 from 3-point range and three steals in a ridiculously energized 42 minutes of UF’s 84-82 overtime win.

“How many rebounds?” senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin asked after the game he sent into OT on his jumper with two seconds left in regulation. “Dang! Those are video game numbers.”

The Gators (13-2, 2-0) hope the “Doe-Doe” joystick ride continues, preferably with Tuesday night’s home game against surprising Georgia (8-6, 2-0), which already has a road win at No. 21 Missouri and Saturday defeated Alabama.

“I’ve got to do a better job with him,” Donovan said of Finney-Smith after Saturday’s big road win at Fayetteville, Ark. “He’s a real, real good team guy. He plays the right way. He’s got a really good feel. But he’s not a guy who plays through mistakes really well. He gets down on himself. Gets frustrated. I have to do a better job of instilling confidence in him and getting him to continue to move on to the next play.”

If he does a better job than he did in prepping Finney-Smith in advance of Saturday’s game, God help the Southeastern Conference. The 6-foot-8, 215-pounder was a workhorse on the glass, bouncing around, tipping balls, keeping plays alive and keeping the Gators in a game without leading scorer Casey Prather (out with a bruised bone in his knee) and with center Patric Young complaining of achy knees.

“I was tuned in,” Finney-Smith said.

As it stands now, Finney-Smith is averaging 10.8 points and 8.0 rebounds per game. He’s only making 39.8 percent of his shots, but his 15 makes from 3-point range -- including a big one in overtime against the Hogs -- rates third on the team. He also had five assists in the SEC opener against South Carolina, which speaks to his unselfishness.

Now, it’s time to build on Saturday’s game. And mental approach.

“When I do something wrong, I tend to think about it and kind of hide in the game, not wanting to be aggressive,” Finney-Smith said. “Now, I’m trying to break through that.”

A true breakout game was a really good start.


Pats mugFEAR THE BEARD

No one needs to tell the Rowdy Reptiles to get fired up -- not after the record student turnout of 4,182 last week for South Carolina -- but Tuesday has a chance to be an even wilder atmosphere at the O’Connell Center.

It’ll be “Beard Night,” folks.

The first 1,000 students to enter the O’Dome will get a fuzzy orange beard in honor of Young, the popular senior with the perpetual fuzz on his face.

Therefore, in honor of “Beard Night,” you’ll want to check with @GatorZoneChris in the days/hours leading up to the game. I’ll have some items to get everyone in the mood. 


PHOTO GRAB

Scottie's shot

Great shot here of Scottie Wilbekin's game-tying basket with two seconds to go that forced overtime Saturday, courtesy of Michael Woods of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazzette.


TRIVIA QUESTION

Before “Doe-Doe” did his thing at Bud Walton Arena, who was the last UF player to grab 15 rebounds in a game? Answer in “Free Throws” section below.


Pitchford EX-GATOR UPDATE

Remember Walter Pitchford? The 6-foot-10 forward from Grand Rapids, Mich., signed with the Gators in the spring of 2011 and suited up as a freshman, playing in 13 games and totaling six points and four rebounds in 22 minutes.

After the season, Pitchford transferred to Nebraska, where he sat out last season and is now starting and averaging 8.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 38 percent from 3-point range.

In the Cornhuskers’ 71-70 home loss to Michigan Thursday night, Pitchford committed a turnover at the 8:54 mark of second half. Up to that point, Pitchford was -- get this -- the only player in all of Division I men’s college basketball who had yet to commit a turnover, according to hoops statistic whiz Ken Pomeroy.

So to date, Pitchford shows one turnover in 330 minutes.

Very, very impressive.

 

 TWITTER PATTER

 
CHARTING THE GATORS -- STREAKING
Florida ended Arkansas’ home streak of 25 straight games (a mark that included two wins at Little Rock). And since Missouri (26 in a row) lost Wednesday night, that means the Gators now own the third-longest streak of consecutive home wins at 24, which also is tied for the longest in school history. UF can set the record Tuesday by beating the Bulldogs.

Team                               Streak      Last loss                                                       Next home game
Stephen F. Austin              26          Texas-Arlington 51-47 (Feb. 15, 2012)     Jan. 30 vs. Abilene Christian
Duke                                    25           North Carolina 88-70 (March 3, 2012)       Monday vs. Virginia
Florida                                 24           Kentucky 74-59 (March 4, 2012)                Tuesday vs. Georgia


IRREVERENT GATOR PHOTO OF THE WEEK

Gator crossing street



FREE THROWS

Prather did not practice Sunday and UF trainer David "Duke" Werner said the senior forward was doubtful for the Georgia game. ... Arkansas coach Mike Anderson is now 43-5 in three seasons at Bud Walton, with two of those losses to the Gators. ... UF's starting lineup Saturday, with Wilbekin and Young on the sidelines, was the sixth different combination to be out there for the opening tip. Should Prather miss Tuesday, whatever combo Donovan goes with will be starting lineup No. 7 this season. ... The Gators went 25-for-34 from the free-throw line Saturday (that's 73.5 percent), including 10-for-14 in overtime when they closed out the game. Wilbekin was 6-for-8, Finney-Smith 3-for-4. ... Trivia answer: It took 107 games for a UF player to grab 15 rebounds in a game. The last to do so was Chandler Parsons in a 75-43 home win against, strangely enough, an Arkansas team coached by current Gators assistant coach John Pelphrey on Jan. 22, 2011.

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