Finney-Smith to play through pain vs Miami

Less than four minutes into the season opener, Florida forward Dorian Finney-Smith had to check out of the game. He returned on Friday against William & Mary, but the injury is more serious than originally expected.

The junior has hairline fractures on middle and index fingers of his left hand but is cleared to play against Miami on Monday (7 p.m./TV: ESPNU). How many minutes he plays will be determined by how much he can tolerate the pain. Finney-Smith hurt his left hand early in the game against William & Mary but returned to finish with 15 points and five rebounds in 22 minutes. The junior played with his left hand heavily taped to try limiting the pain.

Florida coach Billy Donovan said after Friday’s game that the original diagnosis was a sprained hand. Finney-Smith got X-rays to rule anything else out, and that’s when the hairline fractures were discovered.

If he plays on Monday, there’s no risk for further injury. The pain comes through his middle and index finger on his left hand, and that’s what gave him the most trouble when on the floor on Friday.

“We’re going into the game not expecting to get very much from him because he’s going to have to wear a brace on his hand,” Donovan said of Dorian Finney-Smith.

The Florida coach estimated it would be a month before the reigning SEC Sixth Man of the Year “starts to feel a lot better.” He didn’t practice over the weekend and will likely be held out of practice for the next two or three weeks, trying to allow the hairline fractures to heal.

He’ll be in a cast to immobilize his hand, but it will come off so he can play when games come around. When Finney-Smith was in the game during the win over William & Mary, Donovan said he talked about how bad the hand was hurting.

They’ll see how well he can handle the pain on Monday before deciding how much he ends up playing.

“If he can’t catch the ball, handle the ball, pass the ball and do those kinds of things, it become very difficult to play him,” Donovan said. “I’m all into the healing, but I don’t think that he’s going to be feeling much like he did on the game on Friday.”

Monday will provide an early season test for No. 7 Florida, and it will be similar to the one it faced last year. The Gators traveled to face Wisconsin with seven scholarship players active and only lost by six points. If Finney-Smith can’t play on Monday, Florida will face the Hurricanes with just six scholarship players after Dillon Graham elected to leave the team over the weekend.

Monday will be the final game of Chris Walker’s suspension, and he will be on the floor when the Gators host Louisiana-Monroe on Friday at 8 p.m. The team is still waiting on Alex Murphy’s return, which will happen when the fall semester ends.

“I think a game like this early in November gives you a really, really good gauge of where you’re at and where you need to get better,” Donovan said. “For us dealing with Chris Walker not playing, dealing with Dorian’s injury and Dillon Graham leaving certainly reminds me a lot of going into Wisconsin where we went with seven scholarship players. We learned a lot about ourselves and battled and fought but came up on the loosing end of it, but I thought it helped our team get better playing on the road.

“I think when you play a game early like this, the one thing that’s good with our schedule is not only Miami, but the fact that we’re going to get some other good quality opponents here in November that we can grow and get better from some of these experiences.”

In its 84-49 win over Howard on Friday, Sheldon McClellan led Miami with 19 points while Angel Rodriguez added 16 and Manu Lecomte scored 14. It’s a balanced team, and 7-0 center Tonye Jekiri gives the Hurricanes a physical presence in the paint, pulling down 11 rebounds in the season opener.

The Hurricanes held Howard to 28.6 percent from the field last week with an active defense Donovan has urged his team to be ready for on Monday.

“They do a lot of things defensively,” Donovan said. “Jim [Larranaga] has always been creative. They can cause a lot of turnovers with their defense. They can trap you, playing matchup zone, 2-3 zone, they’re very good.

“Offensively, his teams have always been very creative. I think he’s always tried to as best he can as a coach to utilize the personnel he has and gives guys the freedom to go play. I think as a guy that’s been doing it a long, long time, he’s been terrific at adjusting to the personnel he has.”

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