<span class="vcard">Daniel Martin</span>

DJ Haley

D.J. Haley leaving VCU program on eve of A-10 tournament

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Virginia Commonwealth reserve center D.J. Haley is leaving the school’s basketball program to focus on academics, head coach Shaka Smart announced in a release Wednesday.

“We appreciate DJ’s contributions to our program over the past three years,” Smart said in a statement. “Unfortunately, he has decided that his heart is no longer invested in basketball. Clearly it takes a significant commitment to compete as a student-athlete at this level and we understand that DJ’s priorities have changed.  We wish DJ nothing but the best for his future.”

Haley was averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds in eight minutes per game this season. He was more a part of the regular rotation during the Rams’ non-conference schedule, but had his best game of the season Jan. 19 against Duquesne when he had six points, five rebounds, and three blocks in a victory.

He appeared in 102 games over the course of his nearly three full seasons with VCU and started 48 of those games. Moving on without him, the Rams will face of the winner of Xavier and St. Joe’s on Friday in the Atlantic 10 tournament quarterfinals.

The opening round of the A-10 tournament will be televised on the NBC Sports Network Thursday, beginning at 12 p.m. ET with Richmond against Charlotte. That will be followed by Butler-Dayton at 2:30 p.m. ET, Xavier-St. Joe’s at 6:30 p.m. ET, and UMass-George Washington at 9 p.m. ET.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Late Night Snacks: 3 more tickets to NCAA tournament punched Tuesday

LIU Brooklyn
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Game of the Day: Seton Hall 46, South Florida 42 (OT)

This is not the Game of the Day because it was the best to watch. In fact, it was painful. This is the Game of the Day because it proves a point about reaching the line between maximizing the number of teams that get exposure in a given conference and the danger of watering down the product. The first day of the expanded Big East tournament is not usually one for heroics and Tuesday was no exception. It took these two teams overtime to score a combined 88 points. By contrast, LIU Brooklyn scored 91 in its NEC-clinching win over Mount St. Mary’s.

Read more about this game below in the “Struggled” section.

Important Outcomes

1. LIU Brooklyn 91, Mount St. Mary’s 70

The Blackbirds clinched their third straight NEC tournament title with a win over Mount St. Mary’s Tuesday night. It was offense that once again got the job done, posting 91 points. Moving forward, the focus will be on the other end of the floor. As good as the LIU offense is, its defense sits on the opposite end of the spectrum. LIU is 342nd in the country in scoring defense. Unless they can run a team out of the gym, the NCAA tournament could present a problem.

2. Valparaiso 62, Wright State 54

Even with star Ryan Broekhoff having a big night, Valparaiso was able to rip off a 16-0 to close out the game down the stretch and end up with an eight-point victory. The Crusaders are headed to the NCAA tournament.

3. South Dakota State 73, North Dakota State 67

Fittingly enough, Nate Wolters helped to close the game out down the stretch for South Dakota State and the Jackrabbits now find themselves in the NCAA tournament. Aside from Wolters, Jordan Dykstra and Tony Fiegen contributed double-digit offensive numbers. One major concern will be a lack of depth, as SDSU essentially played just a five-man rotation Tuesday night.


1. Nate Wolters, South Dakota State (26 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists)

Another case of Nate Wolters being Nate Wolters. The Jackrabbits needed this type of performance from him to grab the automatic bid and he delivered. He shouldered the weight of the offensive production, but also facilitated and added six rebounds.

2. Wally Judge, Rutgers (20 points, 10 rebounds, 9-of-9 FG)

Judge tied a Big East record for field goals in the conference’s tournament without a miss, going perfect from the field and recording a double-double in Rutgers’ win over DePaul. He now shares the record with former Villanova forward Ricky Wright and former Boston College forward Craig Smith.

3. C.J. Garner, LIU Brooklyn (31 points, 13-of-17 FG)

The Blackbirds have one of the most dynamic offenses in the country and Garner was the engine behind the attack Tuesday to clinch an automatic NCAA tournament bid. He has been asked to pick up more slack since Julian Boyd was lost for the season with a knee injury and has responded accordingly.


1. South Florida (24% FG, 19% 3pt FG, 42 points in overtime loss)

It took the Bulls overtime to score 42 points. Not that their opponent, Seton Hall, did much better in the 46-42 victory, but at least the Pirates hit the 40 percent mark from the field. South Florida couldn’t hit a shot to save its Big East tournament life, so its postseason ambitions end Tuesday.

2. Rashad Whack, Mount St. Mary’s (3-of-15 FG, 3-of-11 3pt FG)

Most of Whack’s points came when the game was already solidly out of reach, struggling to find his stroke from the field for much of the game. As the Mountaineers’ leading scorer, his inability to get an offensive flow going affected the team’s overall production in the championship game loss.

3. Ryan Broekhoff, Valparaiso (7 points, 2-of-8 FG, 5 turnovers)

The most impressive part of this for Valparaiso is the fact that, despite Broekhoff’s stat line, the Crusaders were able to get a win and now they’re going dancing. The tough reality is, though, that it will be a lot harder to compete and advance in the NCAA tournament without Broekhoff’s help. He should be back to form shortly.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

VIDEO: ‘The Crossover’ tells you what to expect in the NCAA tournament

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With Selection Sunday less than a week away, Vin Parise and Chris Mannix stopped by “The Crossover” to give their predictions for this year’s NCAA tournament. With so many upsets this college basketball season, it would make sense that the guys might go out on a limb and pick some underdogs, right? No way. For as appealing as those might be, Indiana and Duke dominate the panel’s picks, but perhaps for good reason.

Ryan Kelly has given Duke a renewed energy since his return to the lineup after injury, providing the Blue Devils with a scoring option that stretches the floor and opens space for Mason Plumlee, Seth Curry, and Quinn Cook. Indiana, though, has shown its toughness in undoubtedly the nation’s best conference.

Will it come down to Indiana and Duke? Does Miami, Gonzaga, Louisville, or anyone else have a shot? Watch the video above for more.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_