To find out if Alex Franklin’s overall shooting percentage this season is better or worse than how he shot in three games against Manhattan last season, you have to go to the four-digit decimals.
This season: .5683.
Versus the Jaspers in 2007-08: .5676.
Either way you slice it, Franklin is shooting at a high percentage this season, and it’s remarkably consistent with how he performed against Manhattan last year.
That could be bad news for the Jaspers, who will play host to the first-place Saints in a game at Draddy Gymnasium that is scheduled for 4 p.m., but will likely tip off a little later because it’s the second half of a double-header that starts with the Manhattan and Rider women at 2.
Siena’s power forward leads the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference in field-goal percentage, and it’s not hard to figure out where the shots are coming from, considering he hasn’t attempted a three-pointer this year and probably never will unless he finds the ball in his hands at halfcourt with one second left in the game.
With the Saints’ front line further damaged by the loss of Josh Duell, out indefinitely with a sprained knee, Franklin’s unwavering production inside has been one of the bedrock elements to Siena’s 5-0 start in the MAAC and 11-5 record overall.
“He’s shooting mostly close to the basket, but he’s got a great touch,” Siena head coach Fran McCaffery said. “When he puts it up on the glass, it’s a real soft ball. He’s got moves around the basket, he can finish underneath . . . he’s just really talented in there.”
“He gets good shots because they put such pressure on the defense with their guards,” Rider coach Tommy Dempsey said after the Broncs lost to Siena, 91-81, Friday night at the Times Union Center. “They drive, and then your back guys have to help, and he cleans that stuff up. If he gets the ball around the basket, he’s going to score. He’s been a very smart player, he knows who he is and he plays to his strengths.”
Franklin also gets to the free throw line by far the most of anyone on the roster, and although his percentage there (.583) is only slightly better than from the field, the fact that he draws fouls works in step with the Saints’ goal to get in bonus and double bonus free throw situations.
Last year against the Jaspers, Franklin was 21-for-37 and averaged 19.3 points per game, including 26 in a MAAC tournament quarterfinal victory.
With Duell out, the Saints will likely explore small lineup combinations, like they did against Rider. At one point in the second half, the 6-foot-5 Franklin was the tallest player on the court, playing with senior co-captain Kenny Hasbrouck (6-3), point guard Ronald Moore
(5-11), sophomore Clarence Jackson (6-3) and freshman Kyle Downey (6-2).
Freshman Owen Wignot and sophomore Steven Priestley also could get more playing time with Duell out.
“It’s a combination that became a legitimate one once Josh went out,” McCaffery said. “You say, OK, who are we going to put on the floor now? It’s crunch time. What are our choices?
“Jackson and Downey have both given us consistent offense. Owen gives us a bigger body. He’s also a very high-percentage shooter. Owen’s kind of caught in between right now playing that three-four spot. He hasn’t played much power forward, so we need him to go in there and rebound, and I thought he was pretty good. He’s getting better. He was aggressive.”
This will be the first of three straight road games for the Saints. They’ll play at Marist on Thursday and at Fairfield on Saturday.
“We haven’t played Niagara yet, Iona’s playing very well, Manhattan’s got everybody back and Loyola gave us everything we could handle down there,” McCaffery said. “This league, top to bottom, is the best it’s been since I’ve been here. It’s going to be very difficult to string them together. We’re very fortunate to be sitting here 5-0. Now we’ve got three in a row on the road, so it doesn’t get any easier.”
Hasbrouck and Moore each moved up school career lists recently. Hasbrouck has 1,605 points after the Rider game, moving past Michael Haddix into sixth in scoring.
Against Kansas on Tuesday, Moore passed Michael Catino in assists and has 436 after getting eight against Rider. Through Friday’s game, he ranked tied for 18th in the country with 6.1 assists per game and 19th in assists-to-turnovers at 2.5.