Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sports columnist Aaron McFarling: Tech basketball fans are getting to know 'Doe-Doe'

BLACKSBURG -- You can call him "Doe-Doe." In fact, a lot of you already do.

Dorian Finney-Smith was stunned to walk into his freshman classes at Virginia Tech this fall and hear people call him by his nickname - one he shares with his grandmother and doesn't really know why.

But let's face it: People should know who Doe-Doe is. Tech hasn't landed a lot of third-team USA Today All-Americans in its basketball recruiting classes. The scouting report indicates he could be special.

His play so far has done nothing to say otherwise.

Three games, two double-doubles. On Tuesday night, Finney-Smith scored 14points and led the Hokies with 10 rebounds in a 78-63 win over Florida International. He also was tied for the team lead with five assists, showing off the unselfishness that has been his trademark since high school.

Tech coach Seth Greenberg has compared Doe-Doe to Scottie Pippen and Magic Johnson. Greenberg has been careful to place "A poor man's†" before each comparison, but he's made the comparisons nonetheless.

"He is a facilitator," Greenberg said. "He is a guy that affects the game in so many different ways. He makes other people better. He plays to win. He plays the game the right way."

Greenberg wasn't done.

"He's got an uncanny feel," the coach said. "I think he has the potential to be a lockdown defender. His length is an advantage. He rebounds the ball outside of his area."

And he does it with a body that could be best described, in baseball bird-dog parlance, as "projectable." Doe-Doe arrived at Tech standing 6feet8 and weighing 192 pounds. He says he's gained 10 pounds since the summer but is still about 20 pounds shy of where he'd like to wind up.

It hasn't mattered against Tech's first three opponents, which, we should note, are nothing like what he'll face in the ACC come January.

Finney-Smith scored the first five points of Tuesday's game on a 3-pointer and a putback. Later, he fired a no-look pass on the fast break to set up a Cadarian Raines dunk.

"Very unselfish," said point guard Erick Green, who's been one of Doe-Doe's mentors. "He doesn't really care about scoring. If you look at how he scores, it's a lot of rebounds, open shots. He just does the dirty work.

"He's going to be a special player. He's going to be one of the top players to come out of here."

He's already one of the top players on this year's team. He'll have to continue to be so, especially after the loss of J.T. Thompson to a season-ending injury.

Doe-Doe never had any reservations about being in the lineup right away. Intimidation? Never.

"Just playing basketball, that's all," he said. "We're all the same age on the court. No youngsters, rookies, freshmen - however you want to say it. We're all in the same league."

Doe-Doe got in foul trouble on Monday and scored only one point in the blowout win over Monmouth. We probably should expect a few games like that ("I hope I stay consistent, stay aggressive," he said.) But we also should anticipate games like the opener against East Tennessee State, when he snatched 16 rebounds to go with 10 points.

"The thing that makes him special to me: He's a better kid than he is a player," Greenberg said. "It's not even close. He's as coachable a player as I've ever coached. He wants to please and do the right thing, and he wants to get better.

"He really is an unbelievable young person. He's a great student. He's a terrific teammate. In a day and age where guys who are pretty good are spoiled? No. He's not spoiled at all."

He's just Doe-Doe. And the sooner you get to know him, the better.

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