Florida started the season with senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin, junior forward Damontre Harris, and sophomore forward Dorian Finney-Smith all suspended for an indefinite period of time. Donovan said he was ready to welcome Finney-Smith back into the mix for Saturday but got a curveball instead.
“Damontre Harris and Scottie (Wilbekin) are still out,” Florida’s winningest coach in history said Friday. “Doe-Doe (Dorian Finney-Smith) is back on the team but he is ill right now and I would say he is unlikely to play. If he was healthy and available I would play him tomorrow.”
Donovan said the sophomore transfer from Virginia Tech has done the right things off the court to get back into the game.
“He’s done a very, very good job up until this point taking care of responsibilities,” he said of Finney-Smith. “I feel bad for him just that he’s ill. We don’t know what it is. He has some kind of virus. He actually went to doctor to get some blood work done (Friday). Probably not going to know exactly what it is probably til later this afternoon, later tonight. It’s one of those things where he didn’t practice yesterday, he’s not going to practice today. It would be very, very difficult to play him tomorrow just based on what he’s feeling, how far behind he is just preparation wise going into this game.”
Harris is in a different situation altogether.
“Right now he’s not even on the team,” Donovan said of the South Carolina transfer. “He’s off right now. He’s not even in practice. He’s got a long, long way to go before he gets on the team. He’s doing things. It’s kind of like the similar thing with Scottie where Scottie was doing things apart from our team, Damontre is doing things apart from our team. So he has some things set in place for him to get back on the team. But right now, he’s not practicing with us, he’s not there every single day, he’s not doing those things.
“He’s not a bad kid but he’s not accountable at all and he’s not responsible enough to take care of the things he needs to take care of. And I’ve always believed this, if I can’t expect somebody to be accountable off the floor, to do what they are supposed to do in all areas of their life, how can I expect them to guard a pick and roll, remember a play, to go get a rebound, to do those things if you can’t be accountable there. It’s not like you turn it on, turn it off. Either you have the wherewithal to be accountable.”
Again, it is a different story for senior Wilbekin who has been doing everything right as of late, but must fulfill whatever full obligation Donovan has for him.
“Scottie has been (practicing) every day. He’s been doing great. I’m really, really proud of him. It’s interesting, when Erik Murphy went through his difficulty his sophomore year, I’m not so sure without that experience he could have ended up being the player that he was. It really I think was great for him and I hated to see him go through it. I think the same thing can be said for Scottie. Scottie is totally different person, totally different leader, totally different attitude.
“The strides he has made… it’s been very, very rewarding for me to see where he is. And I’m not so sure if he didn’t go through some of the difficulties and challenges that he went through that he could even be the kind of person and player he is today. So there is some drastic, drastic improvements that I’ve seen him make. So as a coach as much as you want to win and you get focused on results, at the end of the day these are young kids that are having to make choices and decisions and learn how to deal with those consequences and then how to learn to move on from them. And that’s part of I think our job and our responsibility here.”
“There are still things in place that Scottie needs to uphold his end of the bargain on and those things are not completed yet. And I don’t want to sit there and throw out a time of when he can come back because if he does not do what he’s supposed to do and doesn’t take of his responsibilities, there is going to be games that are going to be added on. And I don’t want to get into a situation where I’m saying one thing and I’m coming back to have to say something different. I think I’ve been as up front and honest as I can be with all of the situations with our guys, right now he’s not playing tomorrow, neither is Damontre and Doe-Doe is, I’m proud of what he’s done, I just feel bad he’s been sick.”
Compounding the suspensions is an injury to wing man Dillon Graham. Florida could use every available player, but Graham has a hip issue he is battling through.
“He’s battled some injuries,” Donovan said. “He’s got some hip issues he’s dealing with right now. He had an ankle sprain. He’s not 100 percent and I think it’s showing in practice some for him, where there are some things physically he wants to be able to do that he’s having a hard time doing. I think his confidence no question has been impacted by some of the things that he’s been dealing with. That’s been a challenge for him. I’m hopeful we can get him back at some point healthy and deal with issues.”
Getting Finney-Smith back when he feels better will be a big thing for this club.
“It’s another body,” he said. “It gives us a little bit more depth. We can balance out minutes, probably. I think Patric’s minutes in terms of the fatigue part of it have been pretty solid, he’s in really, really good shape. Prather the one guy that has probably played too many minutes in my opinion just because he’s going back and forth between the small forward and the power forward spot. We have to play him a couple of different positions. But it would give us a little more flexibility and depth in our frontcourt.”
The Gators host Arkansas-Little Rock at 4:30 p.m. Saturday and the game is on FOX Sports Florida.