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Midday Rumble: consensus hoops favorites, the big Josh Smith question, opening week of practice, and more

Practice has started - as has the period of hope and hype. We also have an arena update, Big East commitments, and some NCAA changes coming...

Can Josh Smith draw double teams a semester earlier than planned?
Can Josh Smith draw double teams a semester earlier than planned?
Harry How

There's not as much "news" this time of year, just a white board full of speculation.

Rumble logoSome consensus has emerged about the new Big East, with Marquette coming out a consensus favorite with the Georgetown Hoyas often right behind - for example in CBS Sports' Conference predictions.

In response, Anonymous Eagle has a note of caution about high expectations for individual players. Meanwhile, Yahoo! Sports has their best-case and worst-case scenarios for their top-25 teams, including Marquette and Georgetown - the Golden Eagles, as Anonymous Eagle notes, are depending from very good performances from their highly-touted freshman. That's not a comfortable spot for most coaches.

And the Hoyas' front court needs to replace the production of Otto Porter with Mikael Hopkins and Josh Smith, whose quickly-waning stamina was the bane of Ben Howland while the two were at UCLA.

Rumble logoOf interest, thinking about Josh Smith and the impact the 300-plus pound big man can have in the post with his soft hands and gentle, skilled touch - could he be eligible in the first semester, instead of in December (or whenever the Georgetown's first semester ends)?

If Smith comes in svelte, able to play 25 minutes per game, he's a bigger Davante Gardner. With a little less defensive skill, but still.

Money's talking

Rumble logoA formal proposal for a split in Division I is now public. VU Hoops details the difference, as does CBS Sports - basically, the football schools want to separate but remain within the NCAA structure, allowing them to pay stipends to their players.

The schools would then be able to play their football, but still participate in NCAA Championships in basketball, baseball, soccer, et cetera - but with the ability to add stipends to players' scholarship offers. Or perhaps the rules would be different only for football.

Props to Kevin Willard

Rumble logoAt an event for Seton Hall supporters, Kevin Willard dropped this gem: "If anyone in attendance has a top-10 kid out there, I'll hire you too."

I laughed, Kevin.

Props to St. John's

Rumble logoThe meet-and-greet-and-dribble fundraising event Dribble for the Cure was a great success last Saturday, raising money for pediatric cancer research.

There was a very strong turnout of St. John's fans and supporters, as the event saw more than 500 come out to the Queens Campus. At last count, more than $55,000 had been raised for pediatric cancer research, the most donated in the event's three years.

They still take donations, so look into it if you'd like to contribute.

The next Mike Rice?

Georgetown's women's basketball coach has gotten suspended:

Georgetown has placed women’s basketball Coach Keith Brown on administrative leave, along with assistant coach Tim Valentine, following complaints of unprofessional conduct and inappropriate language.

"Two weeks ago, concerns were raised regarding unprofessional conduct and the use of inappropriate language in coaching the Georgetown University women’s basketball team," Kerr said in the statement. "Georgetown takes very seriously any allegations of misconduct and the university has an established review process that carefully investigates such cases."

First Practice

Everybody's practicing!

Rumble logoAt Xavier, the team is trying to instill the "play hard" ethos that has kept Xavier near the top of their previous league, the Atlantic-10, for years. And of note, zone-busting shooter Myles Davis of New Jersey should be ready for practice in a week or so - he had arthroscopic surgery less than a month ago.

Rumble logoAt Villanova, Jon Rothstein has copious practice note tweets, compiled by VU Hoops. Jay Wright sees improvement coming from Providence and St. John's, mentions Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins prominently, and notes on strong team chemistry.

Rumble logoA first-hand account from Friar Basketball finds them impressed by the Providence Friar's length on the practice floor, and thinks that Tyler Harris will surprise:

Standing a legit 6’9 he has put on 10 to 15 pounds of muscle during his year off. He is a matchup nightmare, he can score inside and out. He is too fast for power forwards to guard and to quick for small forwards to stop.

Rumble logoThe Indianapolis Star posts a video from Butler's first practice, discussing Brad Stevens' departure and the freshmen.

"[Brandon Miller] is a little more intense, which I like," says senior forward Erik Fromm. "I like the fire and the passion coach Miller shows... I think it fires the rest of us up too. We miss coach Stevens, but not in a bad way. We are really supportive of Brandon... we couldn't be happier that Brandon got the job."

Rumble logoAt St. John's Dribble for the Cure fundraising event - which took place before any practices for the Johnnies, since they are limited by the days they used in advance for the Europe trip - Steve Lavin noted that the Big East is even, all teams are on equal footing:

"Some of those schools were on a whole other level," Lavin said. "It' wasn't that in a given year a Villanova or Georgetown couldn't go to the Final Four or St. John's couldn't make a run at an Elite Eight. But, on the whole, those [larger schools] were going to have an edge."

Does that make players practice harder, I wonder?

DePaul new arena update

Rumble logoPelli Clark Pelli architects, who designed the north terminal of Reagan International Airport in DC, the Minneapolis Public Library, and DePaul's theater school, have won the contract to design the new DePaul-related arena run by Chicago's Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (McPier). Like many of Pelli's designs, it's got a lot of glass, and will be a low-walled building, designed to foster an open design vs a closed "black box" arena.

DePaul arena

Commitment is not just for couples anymore

Rumble logoProvidence gets a commitment from Ben Bentil from St. Andrews school in Delawarre. The 6'8" forward is a consensus four-star recruit.

Friar Basketball caught up with the forward:

He has the body and size of a prototypical power forward and comes to Providence with a defensive mindset. After developing a passion for the sport of basketball, when moving from Ghana to the United States, Bentil soon idolized Kevin Garnett for his aggressive style of play, "Growing up, I liked Kevin Garnett, I loved to watch his game and the way he plays defense," he said, "I love to get after people, so I am really focused on my defense."

Rumble logoCreighton gets a commitment from Colorado guard Ronnie Harrell:

Harrell has sprouted into a 6-foot-6 dead-eye shooter capable of lighting it up from anywhere on the court.

"He’s the best perimeter shooter I’ve had in 35 years of coaching," Denver East coach Rudy Carey said. "He has NBA range, and he shoots it effortlessly."

He’ll be shooting it for Creighton as a collegian. The day after returning from his recruiting visiting to Omaha, Harrell called Bluejays coach Greg McDermott to accept Creighton’s scholarship offer.

"When I got on that plane Sunday to come home, I just had this feeling like Creighton was it," Harrell said in a Monday night telephone interview. "I thought about it last night, and I just had this gut feeling that I had found the school for me."

Rumble logoXavier gets a commitment from post player Sean O'Mara, a 6'9 three-star forward from Benet Academy just outside of Chicago.

O’Mara is a polished post player who is not averse to physical play. He averaged 16 points, eight rebounds and 3.5 assists while facing constant double- and triple-teams and one of the most difficult schedules in Illinois.

He said Xavier’s reputation for developing power forwards factored into his decision.