Dorian Finney-Smith is a self-proclaimed "laid-back dude."
He’s not a talkative guy. He’d rather lead by example.
So when Florida head coach Mike White approached Finney-Smith in the preseason and challenged the redshirt senior to be more vocal, it took Finney-Smith out of his comfort zone.
"It’s kind of uncomfortable to get out of myself," Finney-Smith said on Sept. 29 at the Gators’ media day.
But White has quickly learned how to get the best out of Finney-Smith: Let him be himself.
In his time at Florida, the Portsmouth, Virginia, native has traveled to two Sweet Sixteens, two Elite Eights and one Final Four.
Finney-Smith was also named Southeastern Conference Sixth Man of the Year in 2013-14 — his first full season as a Gator.
Finney-Smith has the experience. He is a team leader, and White’s going to let him lead his way.
"We kind of got away from that about three weeks ago because I wanted Dorian just focused on Dorian," White said."And it’s funny. As we’ve talked to Dorian less about leading, he has started to play better. And now he’s playing really well, and you see him on the court in Oxford (on Saturday), chirping a lot to our other guys, leading."
Finney-Smith had 17 points and 10 rebounds in Saturday’s win over Ole Miss. Three of his four double-doubles this season have come in Florida’s last four games.
He leads the Gators in scoring with 13.6 points per game and in rebounding, grabbing 7.7 boards per game. He is also the only player on the roster to start in all 17 games thus far.
Finney-Smith said it was a relief when White told him he didn’t need to be as vocal anymore, and that it’s easier now for him to just be himself. The relief is evident by the way he has played as of late.
"Kind of like took a weight off my back," Finney-Smith said. "I kind of was getting a little deflated when guys missed their assignment. It affects me, too. So he was just trying to tell me to focus on myself."
Finney-Smith is the leader this young UF team needs, even if he isn’t the most vocal player on the floor. He knows what it takes for a team to be great — he’s been there before. As a leader by example, his game speaks for itself.
"For us to be more consistent, you’ve got to be our most consistent guy. Everything you do or say, our guys follow you," White said his staff told Finney-Smith. "He’s playing hard, and we need him to continue to play hard."
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