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Deke Bellavia

Join Deke and the Cajun Cannon Bobby Hebert for live, local talk about the Saints, LSU, Pelicans and much more on "Sports Talk!" 

Weekdays 4-8pm

Twitter: @dekebigchief
Email: bigchief@wwl.com


LSU's Mainieri on SportsTalk: "Pitching wins championships"

Coach Paul Mainieri knows that this time of year, the teams that are clicking on all cylinders are the ones that get to Omaha, and the teams that are pitching the best are in that number. LSU got great pitching this past weekend in the Regional wins. "If you're not hitting well at the plate, you better be pitching well. And this past weekend our pitching was great. It's hard to lose when the other team does not score any runs," said LSU Coach Paul Mainieri.

The Tigers took care of business in last week's Baton Rouge Regional with three big wins over Lehigh and UNC Wilmington. LSU got two huge outings from their starting pitchers as Alex Lange and Jared Poche were incredible. The two pitchers helped the Tigers pick up back-to-back shutout wins to advance to this weekend's Super Regional.

The #2 ranked LSU Fighting Tigers are the nation's highest seeded team remaining in the NCAA Baseball Playoffs. And now the Bayou Bengals are two wins away from advancing to the 2015 College World Series.

Dealing with bad weather was a big theme in last weekend's regional play at Alex Box. "I'm sure it's very difficult for the players," Mainieri said when talking about having to overcome weather delays and postponed games this past weekend. "We coach our guys to know that during a season, there are going to be obstacles and adversity that you are going to have to overcome, and this team has all season long."

LSU has seen a lot of types of games this season and Coach Mainieri says he feels confident in whatever type game his team may be in. "I think our team has shown that we can win those slug-fest type games and we can win the low scoring type games."

Up next a familiar foe in the UL-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns. "I have a lot of respect for Coach Robichaux his staff and his team. They play great baseball, and it was a great accomplishment for ULL to win their regional. The stakes are high and two great teams are playing for a chance to go to the College World Series."

You can listen to Bobby and Deke's full interview with Coach Paul Mainieri by clicking below.

FULL AUDIO: Bobby and Deke talk to LSU Baseball head coach Paul Mainieri
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Bobby and Deke on Pelicans hiring Alvin Gentry

Bobby's Take:

"That shows you that General Manager Dell Demps is in control," said the Cajun Cannon Bobby Hebert. "Gentry is a part of the most successful team in recent NBA history in Golden State, which is ironic when you look at the season.  He's an offensive guy.  Just look at the Warriors, and Suns, and their points - they scored 110 points a game!"

Bobby continued to praise Gentry: "He understands the chain of command, the other candidates might have wanted too much power. There is no power struggle with this hire. Dell Demps has a lot of input. Gentry's been a great assistant."

Deke's take:

I like the hire.  I would not be surprised at all if Gentry was the man all along, and the Pelicans did not want to show their hand in hiring Alvin without talking to other candidates.  Alvin Gentry has been in New Orleans as a lead assistant under Tim Floyd and he as hot as he has been in the NBA - perhaps ever - as a coach. 

Coach Gentry is well respected around the league. He has been coaching at this level for over 25 years and now the New Orleans Pelicans will be getting a coach that (odds makers favorite to win the Finals) is coming off an NBA Championship as the lead assistant coach.

I know that the fans will probably question the hire because of Coach Gentry’s record as a head coach in the NBA.  But when he was equipped with his best talent of his tenure, which was in Phoenix with players like Steve Nash and Amarie Stoudamire, Coach Gentry led the Suns to the Western Conference Finals in which his club faced the eventual champion Lakers in a heated seven game series.

If Dell Demps wanted to give the Pelicans more of an offensive flavor, then he found the right man.  Coach Gentry has always had good offensive teams and if you look to the teams he was with prior to him going there, the offensive production was better under Gentry.

Ultimately Coach Alvin Gentry’s success will hinge on titles.  Gentry has to win at least one title, but I would say two at the very least to consider this hire a good move, and if offense is his thing, than Alvin comes to a team that has some solid pieces in place when it comes to the offensive end of the floor.
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Baton Rouge Regional: Who are Wilmington and Lehigh?

The local folks know who LSU and Tulane are, but what about the other two teams participating in the 2015 Baton Rouge Regional?  UNC Wilmington and Lehigh are the other two schools in the mix, so let’s get a little background information on the teams schools that we are not as familiar with.  

#2 UNC Wilmington 

Location:  Wilmington, NC
School Colors:  Teal, Navy and Gold
Mascot:  Seahawks
Conference: CAA
Coach:  Mark Scalf
Season Record:  39-16


“Our guys have learned how to compete. Our pitching has been kind of up and down but our bullpen really helped us down the stretch of the season,” said UNC Wilmington Coach Mark Scalf.  UNC Wilmington is far more familiar with South Louisiana than most may think as Scalf saw his club battle LSU in the 2003 regional finals at the old Alex Box Stadium.  “That was a great experience for our program and this school.  We know how great baseball is at LSU and the tradition that they have.”

UNC Wilmington will get a shot to take on the Tigers if the top two seeds in this weekend’s Baton Rouge Regional win their opening round games.  UNC Wilmington will battle Tulane at 7PM in game two of the Baton Rouge Regional on Friday Night.  Tulane beat the Seahawks earlier this season 8-4 back on March 31 in North Carolina.  

#4 Lehigh

Location:  Bethlehem, Pa.
School Colors:  Brown and White
Conference:  Patriot League
Mascot:  Mountain Hawks
Coach:  Sean Leary
Season Record:  25-29 


The top seeded LSU Tigers will take on the Lehigh Mountain Hawks in the first game Friday at 3PM.  “We just have to do what we do well.  We play small ball and we are going to have to play as good as we have against LSU,” said Lehigh Coach Sean Leary. He had nothing but praise and great things to say about the LSU Tigers.  “The more you look at them the better they look.  There aren’t any weak spots on their team and they are a great program.”

Lehigh enters the NCAA Tournament on a two game losing streak. 
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Deke: Deuce loves Saints running back core

The all-time leading rusher in the history of the New Orleans Saints dropped by for a chat on SportsTalk with Bobby Hebert and yours truly, Deke Bellavia.  The great Deuce McAllister gave his take on the Saints off-season, being a one thousand yard rusher and the current group of Saints running backs. 

“I love the corps that we have,” said McAllister.  “If those guys are healthy, they can be a dangerous group.”  Deuce likened the Saints current running back duo of Mark Ingram and C.J. Spiller to himself and Reggie Bush back in 2006, when that Saints tandem was formed. 
Deuce said when it comes to rushing the football on a game by game basis there is a magic number the Saints should strive for.  “When you can get to 30 rushing attempts as a group, then you’re talking about having a better chance to win games.”

So is rushing for one thousand yards as big a deal as it once used to be in the NFL?  “1,000 is the old bench mark,” proclaimed Deuce.  “When you get to rushing 1,300 yards in a season, now you’re talking about being an elite running back in the NFL.  And when you can put up 2,000 all-purpose yards, then you’re talking about best of the best,” said the two-time Pro Bowler.

I (Deke) asked Deuce about the 2006 off-season in which the Saints had major changes to deal with.  A new head coach, the top free agent QB, Drew Brees, was signed, and the Saints had the second overall pick in the 2006 Draft.  So what does Deuce remember most about the 2006 off-season? 

“I was fighting for my job.  I was coming off an injury; Coach Payton was a new coach in his first year and I knew I had to show and prove that I deserved to be a part of that team,” recalled Deuce.  McAllister also admitted  he felt more pressure to do well going into the 2006 season after the Saints drafted RB Reggie Bush with the #2 overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft. 

To listen to Bobby and Deke’s entire interview with Deuce McAllsier please click HERE
 
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Keenan Lewis: "This is one of the best Saints groups"

Saints cornerback Keenan Lewis has become one of the Saints top players since arriving prior to the 2013 season.  He now enters his seventh season in the National Football League and Lewis is excited about what he sees.

“I think this is the best group of DB’s (defensive backs) I’ve been around.  We’ve got a lot of depth, good leaders and some young guys that can come in and compete.  I’m looking forward to working with these guys.”

Lewis visited with Bobby Hebert and Deke Bellavia on SportsTalk Tuesday.  Lewis and the Black & Gold began OTA’s (Organized Team Activities) this week.  It’s the first time this off-season that the entire Saints team hit the field.  Keenan stressed that now’s the time for the Black & Gold to begin to grow and develop into a solid team.  “I think it’s very important for us to work hard and bond to come together and become a better team.  This off season work is very important,” said #21. 

Bobby asked Keenan about the Saints new veteran defensive back Brandon Browner.  “He’s a guy that took me under his wing when I was a freshman (Oregon State) in college.  When you’ve got a guy like Brandon (Browner) he can do so many things on and off the field to help the younger players know what it takes to be successful in the NFL,” Lewis said.

Keenan also promoted his football camp that takes place this weekend at Tad Gormley Stadium in City Park.  Lewis says giving back to the city he loves means a lot to him. “I always wanted to be known as that guy who gives back to his community.  That’s why I try and get out and be a part of the community as much as possible and show people I do care.”

For more information on the Keenan Lewis Camp visit www.keenanlewis21.com.  And to listen to Bobby and Deke’s entire interview with Lewis click below.

FULL AUDIO: Bobby and Deke talk to Saints CB Keenan Lewis
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Mainieri: "It's a whole new season now"

Although his Tigers did not reach their goal of winning the SEC Tournament their third straight year, Coach Paul Mainieri likes where his LSU Tigers are entering the post season.  “I like the way our team competed.  I’m disappointed that we lost.  But I like the way we played.”

The Tigers fell to Florida 2-1 on Saturday in the SEC Tournament Semi-finals.  Now the Tigers move on to regional play. The #2 national seeded LSU Tigers will open NCAA post season play this weekend hosting the Baton Rouge Regional.  LSU is the #1 seed in the Baton Rouge Regional and will play host to #4 Lehigh.  The Baton Rouge Regional once again has a lot of Louisiana flavor as the Tulane Green Wave earned the #3 seed in the regional and the Wave will take on #2 UNC Wilmington.

“It’s a fun time of year.  LSU fans look forward to regional play at the Box, the players are excited to be home hosting the regional again and there are four very good teams competing.  It’s going to be a lot of fun,” said Mainieri.  

The Tigers will open tournament play Friday at Alex Box Stadium with first pitch set for 3PM right here on the home of the Tigers, WWL Radio.  The winner of the Baton Rouge Regional will take on the winner of the Houston Regional in next weekend’s Super Regional action.  Teams competing in the Houston Regional include host Houston, Rice, Louisiana Lafayette and Houston Baptist.  

Coach Mainieri and the Tigers earned the #2 overall national seed marking the fourth straight year in which the Bayou Bengals are a national seed.  “No other team in the country can say that.  I think being the only school in the nation that has been a national seed for four straight seasons is something to be proud of.  It demonstrates consistency and now we’ve got to go out and get the job done.  We’ve got a lot of work to do.”  

Coach Mainieri said that over the years he has tweaked the way he prepares his team during regional play and that the team is currently preparing to open the post season against Lehigh.  I don’t think we will play any tougher teams than we’ve seen in our league all season long.  We’ve got to play well and take things one game at a time.  It’s a whole new season now.”  

To listen to Bobby and Deke’s entire interview with LSU Coach Paul Mainieri click below. 

FULL AUDIO: Bobby and Deke talk to Paul Mainieri ahead of Baton Rouge Regional

Photo courtesy LSUSports.net
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Saints sign OL Mike McGlynn

The New Orleans Saints signed veteran Offensive Lineman Mike McGlynn Wednesday.  McGlynn played seven seasons in the NFL.  Last season McGlynn was with the Kansas City Chiefs.

In his career the veteran lineman started in 71 games including 13 games last season with the K.C. Chiefs.  Taken in the 4th round of the 2008 NFL Draft, McGlynn was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles. 

McGlynn spent time with the Eagles, Bengals, Colts, Redskins and Chiefs.  Saints sideline reporter Kristian Garic notes, “This is another depth move by the Saints. Look at it as insurance, to a position that is already up for grabs during training camp. Offensive guards Tim Lelito & Sieno Kalemente will be the primary players competing for time at left guard.” 

The Saints also parted ways with Wide Receiver Andy Tanner.
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Drew Brees: Young players have opportunity to contribute right away

Saints Quarterback Drew Brees joined Bobby Hebert and Deke Bellavia on SportsTalk.  Drew talked first about his belief in New Orleans and our region reflected in the big investment he and his wife Brittany just made by partnering with a local company, Walk-On’s.  “It’s another way we can invest back in Louisiana.  I’m excited about this new opportunity to partner with Walk-On’s.  I think it’s such a great fit for us (Brees Family) and Walk-On’s,” said Brees.

Bobby asked Drew about the team drafting quarterback Garrett Grayson. “So much about playing the QB position is about getting rid of the football quickly and going to the right places and he did that during the rookie camp.  Garrett fits in great in the QB room.  I think Garret is a nice addition to the team," said Brees.

So how critical is the off season work the Saints put in right now to returning to the playoffs?   “You can start building a foundation in the off season.  I can’t remember at any time that there have been this many positions open and how the younger guys can come in and really have some great opportunities to come in and contribute right away."

Bobby and Deke talked to Drew about expectations and what he hopes to see this year at OTA’s, Mini Camp and Training Camp.  Brees assessed the Saints rookie class, also how the team needs to advance to be post-season contenders.  You can listen to the entire interview with Drew Brees by clicking below.  

 
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Sean Payton: "This camp is further along than other rookie camps"

New Orleans Saints' Coach Sean Payton addressed the media Saturday as his rookie class wrapped up their second day of rookie mini-camp.  Coach Payton was asked a variety of questions ranging from how the practices have been, to the firing of Monty Williams, to the situation with the New England Patriots.

Payton is holding his 10th rookie mini-camp with his first being back in 2006 months after he was hired to rebuild the Black and Gold Franchise. Payton said that this camp may be the best one yet. "This camp is further along then other rookie camps we've had in the past," Payton said. "I'm impressed."

READ MORE: Saints rookies impress at mini-camp

The Saints were able to land two first round picks in last month's 2015 NFL Draft, including defensive standout Stephone Anthony with the 31st pick in round one.  Coach Payton said there were many things that he and his staff were sold on when it came to drafting the former Clemson Tiger. 

"His ability to communicate is one," Payton said. "He comes from the #1 defense in the nation. He's very mature, he's a good communicator.  All of those things were huge plusses," Payton said when asked about his second first round pick.

Coach Payton was also asked how rookie QB, and third round draft pick, Garrett Grayson has done thus far. Said Payton, "He's a quick decision maker. He's been sharp. He's a quick study and very accurate."

READ MORE: Saints feel they've found new gunslinger in Grayson

Two notable names that are tryout players include two former draft picks in Wide Receiver Josh Morgan and Defensive End Da-Quan Bowers. Morgan spent time in the league with the 49ers, Redskins and played last season with the Chicago Bears.

Bowers was once hailed as the nation's best Defensive End while at Clemson.  He was a second round draft pick by Tampa Bay in 2011 but has never been able to stay healthy and underachieved his draft position. 

When asked about the penalties handed down recently against the New England Patriots, Payton replied, "I knew that question was coming. Look, our focus is on our team.  We've got enough problems of our own and that's our focus."

As for the the firing of Pelicans Coach Monty Williams..."I shot him a text," Payton said. "It's hard to see that, but it's part of our profession."

This weekend's Rookie Mini-Camp features the Saints Draft Class of 2015, 13 undrafted Free Agents and tryout players that were invited to participate in the camp.

The Saints will wrap up their three day rookie mini-camp tomorrow with OTA's and mini-camp coming in the next several weeks.
 
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Bobby on rookie minicamp: "Saints need impact players"

The Saints will hold their annual Rookie Mini-Camp this weekend at their facility on Airline Drive.  The Black and Gold welcome in eight draft picks, 13 undrafted free agents and many tryout players will partake in the club’s three day camp.

“We need this draft class to make an impact right away,” said the Cajun Cannon Bobby Hebert.  Bobby points back to the Saints 2006 draft class, which was the first under then first year head coach Sean Payton.  “That class was not only able to come in and make an impact, but the 2006 class eventually helped the Saints win the Super Bowl.”  Reggie Bush, Roman Harper, Jahri Evans, Zach Strief and Marques Colston all became starters for the Saints with Colston, Evans and Strief all still with the team as starters on offense.

“We need this class to see some of the players be with the team for a long time.  If we could have a few players become starters and remain with the club for five years or so that would be a successful draft class in my eyes.”

Bobby said that he thinks defensive coordinator Rob Ryan will be looking to see which players can come in and help right away.  “The defense needs a lot of help and I expect a lot of competition across the board.  The time has come where it does not matter how a player got here.  It’s now all about who can come in and make plays.”

 

You can keep up with the Saints Rookie Mini-Camp with coverage all weekend long on wwl.com.  And be sure and join Kristian Garic and Deke Bellavia Saturday from 3-6:30PM on WWL Radio with a special Saints Rookie Mini-Camp Edition of Sports Talk. 
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