SUMMER HOOPS NOTES: HALEY’S HEALTHY OFFSEASON

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VCU center D.J. Haley has packed more than 40 pounds onto his 7-foot frame since his freshman year.

RICHMOND, Va. – They’re seeing a lot less of D.J. Haley over at Five Guys Burgers and Fries these days. The same goes for Extreme Pizza. Alas, Haley has taken his talents to a local grocer.

Haley, a rising junior center for the Rams, is taking fitness and nutrition to heart this summer. Since the end of basketball season, Haley says he’s packed 14 pounds onto his 7-foot frame and now weighs 264. That’s up considerably from his freshman year, when the Palmdale, Calif. native arrived on campus a lanky 220 pounds.

With more heft to throw around, Haley hopes to control the paint next season and beyond.

“As the years have gone on, I’ve found it easier and easier to move people in the post,” Haley, who averaged 3.1 points and 3.9 rebounds per game last season, said. “It helps you with your post moves getting better position.”

VCU Strength and Conditioning Coach Daniel Roose says that Haley burns so many calories a day that he’s not under any restrictions in that regard. But over time, Roose felt Haley’s less-than-stellar eating habits occasionally led to sluggishness practices.

So Haley has cut out his burger binges and most fried foods and substituted pastas and lean meats. It’s not a strict diet as much as it is Haley making smarter choices. He’s going out to eat less and shopping at the grocery store more often. He’s also using an iPhone app recommended by Roose, MyFitnessPal, to track his meals. One handy feature allows the user to scan the bar codes of the groceries he consumes and logs the nutritional information. Roose says that while he’s tried to steer Haley towards healthier foods, it’s been Haley taking charge of his eating program.

“He’s always been like that. He gets it. He sees the whole picture,” Roose said.

In the meantime, Haley has hit the weight room hard this summer. During his freshman season, Head Coach Shaka Smart and Roose wanted Haley to put on weight as fast as possible in order to handle the larger, punishing bodies of college basketball. Haley tipped the scales at 252 pounds at the end of his freshman year, but Roose admits that the weight wasn’t “distributed ideally”.

But with improved eating habits and two years of hard weight training, Haley is beginning to sculpt his physique. During his first summer working with Roose, Haley could do exactly one chin-up, and he weighed around 220 pounds. Last week, Haley managed 19 pull-ups, despite adding more than 40 pounds to his frame.

When he arrived at VCU, Haley had set a weight goal of between 265-270 pounds. Now that he’s essentially reached that range, he hopes to add strength and quickness without sacrificing bulk.

Despite his dietary evolution, Haley admits that some habits die hard.

“I’ve kind of relaxed on Extreme Pizza, but I’m kind of still a regular, I won’t lie.”

ARE YOU READY FOR SOME BASKETBALL? SERIOUSLY, ARE YOU READY?

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This man loves basketball practice.

RICHMOND, Va. – Players and coaches tend to differ in a lot of ways, but none more than when it comes to practice. Coaches, they’ll practice all day and night. For players, well…practice is something to do between games.

The week and a half will be player-friendly in that regard. VCU will play four games in seven days – and five games in 10 days overall – starting with Thursday’s matchup with William & Mary at the Verizon Wireless Arena at 8 p.m. (ESPNU).

It’s a stretch that will cut heavily into preparation time. After Thursday’s game, the Rams will have one day to get ready for rival Old Dominion before hosting the Monarchs Saturday at 8 p.m. On Monday, VCU will welcome Hofstra to Richmond. Games at Towson Jan. 25 and Georgia State Jan. 28 follow. VCU’s Shaka Smart, a coach, and therefore by definition someone who loves practice, accepts that he’ll have to pull back on the reins for a little while.

“We probably won’t practice quite as long,” Smart said. “I love practice. I would practice for three hours every day, but it just doesn’t make sense for the next 10 days.”

The scheduling crunch is the result of two factors. First, the Colonial Athletic Association Championship (March 2-5 this season) is played early, relative to most leagues. The CAA usually crowns a champion a week before the NCAA Selection Show. Second, BracketBusters is played on a weekend previously reserved for conference play (Feb. 17-19). To compensate, there are two weeks during the CAA season with three games instead of two. That leaves VCU with no more than two days of preparation for any game over the next 10 days.

“I was talking to [Boston Celtics Assistant] Kevin Eastman about this stretch and he said, ‘Welcome to the NBA,’” Smart said. “In a lot of way it will be similar in regard in terms of short turnaround.

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SPORTS INFO PHOTO OF THE DAY

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The men’s basketball team had SEAL Team Training this morning. SID Scott Day has been participating with the team during these sessions. Apparently, his car wouldn’t start, which is why this was on the front door of the sports info office when I got here today.

There are no suspects at this time. However, Strength and Conditioning Coach Daniel Roose is considered “a person of interest”.

ALWAYS ON THE RUN

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If you run into Strength and Conditioning Coach Daniel Roose on a Friday in the offseason and he seems particularly giddy, it’s for good reason. In general, Roose gets as excited about working out players in the offseason as I do about splitting aces and all-you-can-eat wing Tuesdays. But Friday’s are on another level for Roose. That’s when he tests the basketball team with a series of insane workouts. There’s a nickname for those workouts, but I can’t print it here.

Word is that today the guys kicked things off with something called the “The Parking Deck Mile”. Players start by running up and around the Bowe Street Parking Deck, then back down. Then, it’s down Marshall Street to the corner of Harrison Street and back to the loading dock. Allegedly, it’s a full mile. Because of Mickey Mouse NCAA rules, I can’t tell you who ran how fast or did what, but it’s safe to say that guys are working hard.

Also, just so we’re clear, that was the warm-up for the day. The guys hit the weights afterwards.

BRILLIANT!
Here at Around The Horns, we’re always looking for ways to generate revenue for the athletic department. After a couple years of slinging t-shirt ideas and other goodies, we’ve discovered the mother load. I can’t believe I didn’t think of this first. LSU announced that it is going to begin brewing its own beer. Can you say, license to print money?

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