Coming off his stellar sixth-man of the year campaign last season, Dorian Finney-Smith made it clear in October the one thing he wanted to do was improve his consistency. As of late, he’s been the most consistent player for the Florida Gators.
Finney-Smith has led the Gators in scoring this season, averaging 14.1 points per game, he’s second in field-goal percentage with a .515 clip and second in rebounding at 5.5 all while playing under 27 minutes a game.
Thus far, Finney-Smith has shown he’s had the best transition entering a new role this season as not only a starter, but also one of Florida’s primary weapons on the court. For a pass-first type of player he’s managed to do a lot and most importantly keep it consistent.
“He’s playing at a really high level right now, I mean I think that’s a result of practice and putting in the time himself,” forward Alex Murphy said of his teammate. “You know, he’s worked extremely hard over the fall even throughout the season now, like I said you can see that out there on the court he’s playing really well and he’s playing with a lot of confidence.”
Mentioning confidence, the junior forward has kept a level mindset during the season as he’s always talking about remaining confident through a victory or defeat. Through two SEC games, Finney-Smith is an example of what confidence is, especially for the rest of the players moving forward.
Through the first two conference games Finney-Smith averaged 18 points and 6.5 rebounds to lead the team. Last season through the first two SEC games, he averaged 15 points and 9.5 rebounds off the bench. A new role hasn’t cut off from his production on the court.
It has been a struggle for the players this year to grow into their new roles, but Finney-Smith has been able to handle it pretty well and at the most important time of the year when the team is now playing for something.
“I think he performs and plays better when he’s challenged,” head coach Billy Donovan said. “It was kind of a Catch-22 with him last year. The one thing I really respect about him is he’s really about as ultimate of a team guy that I’ve ever coached and been around. He is very, very much more concerned about the team than himself.”
Being the team player he is, the Portsmouth, Virginia native has been able to take the pressure of being more aggressive and asked to do more, which has been the most encouraging parts for his coaches.
Last season Donovan said Doe-Doe had droughts in shooting percentage and consistency. He was just so up and down of a player, but now he’s put together a stretch where he’s been consistent.
Whether or not he can do that for the remainder of the season remains to be seen, but Donovan mentioned it hasn’t been his M.O. since he’s been in college. However, his mentor knows he’s taken a step in the right direction of doing more of that.
“I think his focus and detail on that’s been much better this year than it’s been in the past, and it needs to continue,” Donovan said. That needs to continue. I think the one thing about Dorian is he’s not a guy that takes a lot of bad shots.”
For Finney-Smith, he just tries to keep things simple and not get ahead of himself and if he can keep supplying his team, it’ll be the best gift the team can get because he’s the difference for Florida right now.
“If it’s rebounding, blocking shots, passing the ball, I just try and do all the dirty work,” Finney-Smith said postgame against Mississippi State. “Play with a lot of energy and do whatever it takes to win.”