Recuperating Franklin becoming a force again for Siena

Sophomore frontcourt ace Alex Franklin is getting more playing time for Siena, now that is ailing ba

It took awhile for the Siena Saints to adjust to not having Alex Franklin in the lineup.

Now they’re adjusting to having him back in the lineup as they attempt to maintain a share of first place in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference at 7 tonight against Manhattan at the Times Union Center.

Franklin, the Saints’ 6-foot-5 sophomore forward, missed five games with a back

injury before returning for the western New York swing against Niagara and Canisius last weekend. After playing 20 minutes in a 94-84 victory over the Purple Eagles and 22 in a 72-44 victory over the Griffs, Franklin is still working his way back into game condition.

“He was gassed on Sunday. Gassed,” Siena head coach Fran McCaffery said. “But that’s why I didn’t put him in right away in the second half. I wanted to put him in and let him stay out there, because if the game was in the balance late, we wanted him on the floor. He came to me and said, ‘Yeah, you’ve got to take me out.’ ”

As soon as Franklin, a two-time MAAC player of the week who’s averaging 14.5 points and a team-leading 7.3 rebounds a game, gets his wind back, he’ll return to a significant role and get a large share of minutes.

In the meantime, McCaffery has taken advantage of Franklin’s absence by giving freshman center Ryan Rossiter more time on the floor, and senior guard Tay Fisher has also started.

“His minutes are going to be up. We’ve got to get Franklin back in the lineup,” McCaffery said. “That’s No. 1. No disrespect to Tay or Ryan Rossiter. The question is which one comes out, and in many respects, it doesn’t really matter, because they’re both going to get starter minutes. But once Franklin’s conditioning gets back, his minutes have to go up.”

McCaffery has experimented with many different combinations in the last three weeks, even putting both point guards, sophomore starter Ronald Moore and freshman Chris De La Rosa, on the floor at the same time for a short stretch against Canisius.

Fisher has said all along that he doesn’t care whether he starts or not, and in fact, he’s had big games for the Saints both as a starter and off the bench.

“We’ve tried just about all of them,” McCaffery said. “The one guy that probably hasn’t gotten the minutes I would like to get him is De La Rosa. It’s worked for Ryan, for Clarence [Jackson], for Tay coming off the bench, [Cory] Magee’s got his role now. [Steve] Priestley was getting minutes, but his minutes will now decline, especially with Josh [Duell] coming back. But the one guy who I think is a real good player but hasn’t really busted out yet is De La Rosa.”

Duell did not play in Buffalo after having surgery to repair a broken bone in his mouth suffered against Saint Peter’s.

He was cleared to practice this week, and will have to wear at least a mouthguard when he’s in there.

Jackson, the leading scorer against Canisius with 13 points on 4-for-12 shooting, continues to emerge as a scoring threat off the bench.

“The guys were razzing him yesterday [Sunday], he played 18 minutes and took more shots than anybody,” McCaffery said. “I mean, he’s going to come off the bench and shoot the ball. I haven’t said a word to him, like, ‘Don’t shoot, we need to take a better shot, we need to take more time off the clock, move the ball, get some touches’ . . . I mean, he’ll raise up and fire. He’s in the game four seconds, and that baby’s going.”

Junior guard Kenny Hasbrouck is experiencing a dry spell offensively, scoring less than 10 points in each of the last three games, the first time he’d done that since the first five games of his freshman season.

In the last three games, Hasbrouck is 6-for-24

from the field, including 2-for-12 from three-point range.

McCaffery isn’t concerned about his star’s shooting, though, especially after Hasbrouck buried Canisius early in the second half on Sunday by making a long jumper, then coming out of a timeout to come off a screen and nail a three-pointer that gave the Saints a 43-27 lead.

“Had he not blown the game over for us, I may have been [concerned],” McCaffery said. “With him, I just worry about him, phys­ically. I’m always asking how his back’s feeling. He’s got a few different ailments that he seems to be able to play through. It’s never anything mechanical. With him, it would be physical, so I always want to make sure he’s OK.”

Siena, 5-1 in the MAAC and 10-6 overall, swept three games against Manhattan last season, including a three-point win in the conference tournament.

The Jaspers (2-4, 8-8) lost an inside presence when Arturo Dubois transferred.

“He was a guy that was going to run into the low post and stay there,” McCaffery said. “Throw me the ball. Demand the ball, and if they threw it to him, you had to deal with him. What are we going to do with him, are we going to double him, double him from the opposite post, double down, front him? Because he was going to score against single coverage.

But by the same token, it took away some of the driving lanes that some of the other guys couldn’t take advantage of. So now I think you’re seeing a smaller, quicker team with less emphasis on one player. When it’s all said and done, it will help [Antoine] Pearson and [Devon] Austin and [Rashad] Green.

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