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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

Deke: TCU cashes in on Tiger mistakes

In sports, teams can handle losing.  If a team plays their best and still comes up short, then it's less difficult to handle that loss - but that was not the case in the LSU Tigers 10-3 loss to the TCU Horned Frogs at the 2015 College World Series!

After coasting along in the first two innings, the Tigers began to unravel in the third.  With Jared Foster on second base, the Tigers had a runner in scoring position.  Foster had what looked to be a clean path to home plate after a base hit.  But credit TCU as they tossed out Foster at the plate and kept the Tigers off the board.

Then the Tigers fell apart. Pitcher Jared Poche was rolling right along and then made back to back terrible throws to first base and TCU would take advantage.

TCU took a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning and never looked back.  LSU made four costly errors in one of their worst losses in 17 trips to the CWS.  Down 2-1, the Tigers would cut the Horned Frogs lead to 2-1 in the bottom half of the fourth inning.  But TCU would come right back and score four more runs in the fifth to blow the game open expanding their lead to 6-1.  

The first four runs TCU scored in the game were by players that were either put on base or advanced on a LSU error.  TCU starting Preston Morrison allowed just four Tigers to reach base in seven innings of work and the Horned Frogs looked mighty impressive in game one at TD Ameritrade Park.

Meanwhile, Jared Poche just did not have a good day.  Poche pitched a shade over four innings with just three strikeouts while surrendering six runs with three earned.

Now the LSU Tigers face elimination on Tuesday against Either Cal State or Vanderbilt. Hear that game Tuesday afternoon on the BIG 870 WWL AM. Pregame 1:30, first pitch 2:00!
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Bobby & Hokie on Saints OTA: "Delvin Breaux is the real deal!"

With less than a week until their 2015 mini-camp, the New Orleans Saints had another organized team activity that the media was allowed to watch.  WWL resident pros Bobby Hebert and Hokie Gajan both love what they are seeing in the play of new defensive back Delvin Breaux. “He’s doing everything right out there so far. He’s in the right place, he’s around the football and he’s making plays,” Hokie said. “Delvin Breaux is playing with a lot of confidence.  I think Saints fans will really like what they see in Breaux,” agreed the Cajun Cannon. 

Saints Coach Sean Payton gave his thoughts on the play of Breaux at today’s practice.  “He is doing well.  He has picked things up, (including) the mental element of it. He has handled (it) pretty well.  He’s in real good shape, you can see that now. We’re just continuing to work on the fundamentals but he’s handled things, the installation, all of that really well.  That is encouraging.  He made some plays today,” Payton said.

READ MORE: Sean Payton addresses media after OTA
The Cajun Cannon’s take

Bobby intensely watched today’s OTA and took notes as only the former signal caller can.  Bobby is quite impressed with the physical presence of top draft pick Andrus Peat.  “Andrus Peat is a giant of a man.  I don’t think he Peat would be drafted that high if the Saints did not think he was a very good player,” he told me.

Bobby liked when QB Drew Brees connected with WR Brandin Cooks on a 25 yard hook up. Bobby said that defensive back Delvin Breaux had nice coverage on Cooks, but the second year WR made a nice play on the football.
“Delvin Breaux is doing all the right things.  He is all over the wide receivers in coverage, he flies to the football and he’s just making plays.  I like what I see in Delvin Breaux,” said Hebert.  Bobby’s notes also gave good marks to TE Ben Watson and WR’s Brandon Coleman and Seantavius Jones.  

Bobby said that Watson has been a big part of the passing game in the three OTA’s that he has witnessed.  “Ben is a veteran player that you can tell Drew trusts. Watson blocks well and he catches the football.  Ben is having a good off season.”

Saints back-up QB Luke McCown threw a nice pass to RB C.J. Spiller on a wheel route.  “Spiller got behind coverage and Luke made a nice throw with good touch on the football. Spiller would have picked up 60 plus yards.”

Bobby thinks that next week’s mini-camp will be very similar to the OTA’s that he has seen.  “OTA’s and mini-camp are kind of the same.  The pace may be a little faster and they may work on some situational things.  But training camp is when things really heat up.”

PHOTO GALLERY: Saints wrap up OTA's

Hokie’s Call
The man’s whose eyes have seen more than most when it comes to the Black and Gold told me that new Saints DB Delvin Breaux is off to about as good of a start as a player can be having right now. “He’s the best one out there.  That guy is around the football.  He’s breaking up passes, he’s right in the receivers hip pocket and that young man is showing out right now.”  Hokie thinks that Breaux has a great shot to be an impact player for the Saints this season.

Hokie also gave a good nod to TE Ben Watson.  “You can tell that they have Ben Watson in their plans more than last season.  Obviously that is somewhat due to Jimmy Graham being with Seattle now, but Ben Watson is a very good player that has made big plays at each of the three practices I’ve seen.”

Hokie said that it’s tough to give a grade or get a feel on how the offensive linemen are looking because of the lack of contact.  “It won’t be until training camp until we can see how these guys do.  Right now you look to see where their feet are, if they are having their hands in the right place on blocks and if they know the plays.”

Gajan says that the addition of RB C.J. Spiller will be a big plus for the Saints offense.  “He’s got a skill set that we’ve not seen around here in a while.  He rushes the football well and he can create things when he’s out in space.  Spiller is a guy that can make plays.”

Hokie said that he will be looking to see if the players that have stood out so far can continue to be moving in the right direction.  “Consistency is something that all players and coaches strive for.  Can you be consistent in making plays when called upon?”  
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LSU's Mainieri: "I'm proud to be taking this team to Omaha!"

It was another Super Regional on the LSU campus and it was another lap around Alex Box Stadium Field after the Tigers took two straight games from the Louisiana Lafayette Ragin Cajuns.

“Our kids showed an awful lot of poise this weekend.  A very good team came in here that fought us tooth and nail, and I thought we played great defense all weekend, and our pitching was tremendous,” said LSU Coach Paul Mainieri. “I’m just so happy and proud to be taking this team to Omaha for a chance at a national championship.” Mainieri and his Tigers will open CWS play Sunday afternoon at 2pm.  The Tigers will take on either the TCU Horned Frogs or the Texas A&M Aggies.

In game one of the Super Regional LSU’s Chris Sciambra hit the game winning Home Run to help left the Tigers over the Cajuns 4-3.  And then on Sunday night the Tigers erupted in the 7th, 8th and 9th innings to the tune of six runs to win 6-3 and clinch a berth in the 2015 CWS. 

“It’s hard to hit a baseball.  A lot of times these young men are in pressure situations and it makes it even tougher to hit the baseball.  We’ve been able to make the timely hits, and in games in which our bats are not as good as we would like, we’ve been getting great pitching,” Mainieri said.

For the second straight weekend LSU’s starting pitching was lights out.  In game one of this past weekend’s series, freshman All-American Alex Lange tossed another gem for the Bayou Bengals.  And then on Sunday Lutcher’s Jared Poche led the Tigers to a 6-3 win over ULL.

Coach Mainieri talked about the Tigers week of preparation before the team heads out to Omaha later in the week.  You can listen to Bobby and Deke’s entire interview with LSU Coach Paul Mainieri just click below. 

And be sure and follow the LSU Tigers at the College World Series right here on Tiger Radio WWL 870AM/FM 105.3!

FULL AUDIO: LSU Head Coach Paul Mainieri talks to Deke about CWS
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Deke: College World Series on the line for LSU and ULL this weekend

A year ago each team was hosting a Super Regional with the hopes of landing a spot in the 2014 College World Series.  Neither team would make it to Omaha - but that will all change in a few days.

This year we know for sure that one of these two Louisiana schools is going to be among the final eight teams and make it to the 2015 CWS.  The #2 seeded LSU Tigers will play host to in-state foe University of Louisiana at Lafayette's Ragin Cajuns.

The Cajuns are playing their best baseball of the season, coming off three big wins where they got some huge plays late in games. “It has been incredible to see the players come up big in key situations,” said ULL Coach Tony Robichaux. ULL has won four straight games with strong play in all phases.  The Cajuns won the Sunbelt Conference Tournament Title with a Grand Slam and then waltzed through the Houston Regional with a perfect 3-0 mark.

“We were able to get some clutch hits late in those games and these players know to play hard until the final out,” Robichaux continued. The Cajuns scored five runs in the ninth inning to down Rice 7-6 in their first regional game.  Then the Cajuns beat host Houston followed by another win over Rice to capture the Houston Regional Title.

And for those scrambling to get a closer look to the action live from historic Alex Box Stadium, well, it will cost you!  One of my co-workers and good friends Scott Colomb told me that this weekend's Super Regional Tickets are some of the hardest to come by in the history of LSU Baseball.  Known ticket purchasing site StubHub had outfield bleacher seats down the left field line going for as much as $394 a ticket for Saturday night's opening game. And if you want to know the cheapest ticket for sale on Stubhub, well, get ready to shell out over $320 bucks per seat.  

These two Louisiana powers met earlier this season at the 2015 Wally Pontiff Classic at Zephyr Field, where LSU took the Cajuns down 8-6.  LSU's Alex Bregman had one of his best games of the season going 3-for-3 with a Home Run, Triple and a Double in the Tigers two-run victory. But that was over two months ago, and it's safe and fair to say that both teams are better now as they play for the grand trip to the CWS.  

LSU's pitching has been as good as it has in a long time. Alex Lange, the National Freshman of the year and Jared Poche are coming off back to back outings that have the most loyal Tigers Fan calling perhaps the best back to back efforts ever in LSU post season history.

Lange and Poche helped guide the Tigers to back to back shutout wins over UNC Wilmington in last weekend's Baton Rouge Regional.  "Our pitching was outstanding.  You can't win if you can't score and our pitchers did a great job of shutting down UNC Wilmington," LSU head coach Paul Mainieri said.  

Mainieri gave praise to the Cajuns and thinks this weekend's Super Regional will be one that fans can really get into.  "I have a great deal of respect for Louisiana-Lafayette, Coach Robichaux and the Cajuns players and program.  They are playing great baseball right now and we are going to have to play well this weekend," said LSU Coach Paul Mainieri.  

Mainieri will send the nation's best freshman to the mound in game one as Alex Lange will start for the Bayou Bengals. The Cajuns enter the Baton Rouge Super Regional with a 42-21 overall record and ULL is currently on an eight game win streak.  The Tigers are 51-10 overall and are on a three game win streak.  

Game one of the series is Saturday at 7PM with WWL's Coverage starting at 3PM.  Be sure and follow the Tigers all season long on the home of LSU Sports WWL Radio!  
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Saints OTA: "Some receivers have a great shot to make the team"

The New Orleans Saints held practice today at their facility on Airline Drive.  Today's Organized Team Activity (OTA) was the second which the media was allowed to attend.

"There was not anything earth-shattering that took place... I'm not saying that anything was not good, just that it was kind of a regular practice out there," said Saints Color Analyst Hokie Gajan.

The Saints will have another OTA (June 10) which the media can view before their biggest off-season workout session takes place when the club holds their annual mini-camp June 16-18.

Saints wide receiver Seantavius Jones made a real nice catch this morning where he slanted in and then snatched the ball out of midair and dashed away from the defense in the process. "The opportunity for players like Jones is there.  Now it's about who's going to take advantage of those chances and make plays in games," said the Cajun Cannon Bobby Hebert.

Hokie's Call

"I tried to foucs on a couple of guys today.  I watched center Max Unger for a while. Max is real athletic and moves well out there.  You can see why he's one of the best centers in the league. He handles himself with more confidence and her seems to be figuring things out," Hokie said.

Stephone Anthony looked good again today.  "He's just around the football most of the time.  I think he is going to be an impact player for the Saints this season."

Hokie said the Saints worked on third down situations in team sessions with the emphasis on short yard situations.  "Seantavius Jones made a real nice catch.  He snatched the ball out of the air and the coaches seem like they have high hopes for Jones this season."

The Cajun Cannon

The Cajun Cannon Bobby Hebert put the jinx on me (Deke) and himself this morning.  With the team practicing on the far fields, the media was able to sit in the stands. Enjoying an overcast moment, the Cannon then said "It's nice out here today. We got a break it's not that hot."  And wouldn't you know, soon after the sun came out and began to bake us.  Damn Janky!

Now back to practice - the Cannon was taking his notes as usual.  Bobby said that three wide receivers stood out to him today.  #17 Josh Morgan, #16 Brandon Coleman and #15 Seantavius Jones.

"I think Coleman had the best day of that group, but all three made plays during practice."  Bobby's book noted Coleman hauling in over 80 yards in receptions today.

Safety Kenny Vaccaro made a nice play on a deep pass from QB Drew Brees and tipped the ball away from TE Ben Watson.  "It was a nice play but you have to come down with the ball in those situations," Bobby said. Vaccaro later got beat on a route by WR Brandon Coleman, who broke through the seam of the defense for about a 30 yard gain.  

Bobby noted that second year player CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste had a good outing after he broke up a deep pass intended for WR Kyle Prater. "This was his best day in a Saints uniform. Jean-Baptiste made a nice play on the ball and did so against a WR that was much bigger than him," Hebert said.

Rookie LB Stephone Anthony once again drew praise from the Cannon.  "He has to make an impact for the Saints defense right away, and I think he will."  

Overall, "there weren't as many highlights as we saw last week.  I thought the best play took place when Drew Brees threw a fade to WR Seantavius Jones for about a 20 yard gain."

Bobby will give his full take on today's OTA on Sports Talk beginning at 4PM this afternoon.  

A little fun

Towards the end of practice Coach Payton had the team gather on the far field to have what looked to be a punt fielding contest.  Certain members of the Saints offense battled players from the Black and Gold defense to see who could catch punts.

The defense wound up winning the battle and the offense had to do push-ups for losing the fun, team-bonding activity.  Punter Thomas Morstead did the punting and things got even more fun when it was turn for the linemen to field punts.

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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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