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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

Tigers coach: How can you not like where we are?

The LSU Tigers were 3-1 last week after a midweek win over Tulane and the Bayou Bengals took two out of three from #2 Texas A&M this weekend. The Tigers are ranked #1 in five of the college baseball polls.

This week the Tigers face four games. LSU entertains Alcorn State followed by their weekend SEC series on the road in Starkville against the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Coach Mainieri and his Tigers have had to deal with a lot this season - mainly bad weather.

"It's been difficult to deal with. It seems like every week there has been a weather issue. But when the guys come to LSU we tell our players that we have to be ready to deal with any situation that comes our way."

LSU was able to get in all three games this weekend but not without a four hour rain delay on Saturday in the series finale against Texas A&M. Coach Mainieri was pleased with the Tigers winning two out of three but says his team could have taken all three games.

"We would have liked to finish up strong, and I thought we got off to hot start, but we made some mistakes. Credit Texas A&M as they have some great players. But we felt like we made some costly mistakes that kept us from a better shot at winning the third game of that series."

The Tigers are still red hot with a 14-2 mark in their last 16 games. When asked where his team is with 11 games left in the regular season Mainieri said. "How can you not like where we are right now. We have the #1 ranked team in the country, I think we are playing well in all phases in the game. And our team has really come together. I do like where we are."

LSU is coming down the home stretch of the season before the SEC Tournament and then on to the NCAA Regionals. Any chance LSU gets complacent and looks over anyone coming up? "This is the time we have to shift into high gear and focus on the last 11 games. I don't think we are going to have any trouble focusing on each game, one game at a time," Coach replied.

FULL AUDIO: Bobby and Deke talk to Coach Mainieri about Alcorn State
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Deke: Where do the Pelicans go from here?

In sports, some teams have a way of dealing with the media and time passing when it comes to wins and losses. I learned a lot from Coach Saban over the years - his teams have an agreed-upon 24 hour rule. 24 hours after every game goes final, that game - the plays that happened, the good and the bad and the outcome - are no longer brought up or talked about.

So with that in mind, here is what I am thinking about our New Orleans Pelicans.

The Season:

To say that the Pelicans 2014-2015 season was not a success would be completely wrong. The team won 11 more games in the regular season than the previous year and the club was in the Western Conference playoffs for the first time in four seasons and second under Monty Willams.

With all of that feel-good stuff said, this team should not have been fighting until the 82nd game of the regular season to secure a playoff spot. Poor losses to terrible teams along with big wins over champion-like teams - that makes no sense. If this team is going to take the next step, they have to get better from November to April. Expecting any team to turn things on in April and make a run at the title without having several consistent stretches of very good play throughout the season is not realistic.

The Team:

The team has a core and the core on this Pelicans team is obviously Anthony Davis, Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday. These are the three players that should equal that of Duncan, Parker and Ginaboli in San Antonio. I think that Dell Demps can now rotate other players around this core and as long as this core remains together I can't see why this team is not in the post season every year from now own.

What to do with:

What about Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon, Omer Asik, Luke Babbit, Alexis Ajinca and Jimmer Ferdette?

Anderson is under contract for next season and is owed 8.5 million for 2015-16. Anderson looks to be the most valuable in terms of possibly upgrading the roster. Anderson has a place on this team - sharp shooters in the NBA are valuable. What has to happen is that Monty Williams has to figure out or decide what he wants to do with him.

Anderson was far underused this post season and many times when he was not injured Anderson would show up big in a quarter or a half and then disappear. Am I to assume that Anderson just faded out in those games? Were plays designed to get your best shooter the ball and then not executed? And if that's the case doesn't that fall on coaching? If the Pelicans shop Anderson, then get something real good in return. If they keep him, then use him to his full potential, please.

Omer Asik was a nice pick-up last off-season. His size and his ability to bang the boards and get those necessary garbage points are a must in the league. However Asik looked like a liability in the playoffs instead of the seasonal asset he was. I do realize that had a lot to do with the style team Golden State was. But in the playoffs you gotta up your game, and Asik did not.

Ajinca, Fredette and Babbit were all good pick ups, tut are these guys in the future of the team? Can they make the team deeper and better especially in the playoffs? Those questions are to be answered by Dell Demps and Monty Williams.

The Coach:

Monty Williams is a good man, a person that any of the 30 NBA owners would love to have lead their team when it comes to doing and saying the right things. But Monty's coaching has to come into question. I'm not hating. Hell when the entire country calls you out for not getting the ball to your MVP when the game is on the line - then that's not just me, and that is flat out what has happened. Monty Williams seems to have the respect of the players, and there is a sense of strong feelings about how good of a man Williams is. But is Monty the guy?

I know some of you will say 'look at the injuries.' So I have and heres my take. Name one of the 30 NBA teams that did not deal with long term injuries this season. You think Tom Thibodeau has used not having Derrick Rose for the majority of the last three seasons as an excuse? What about Scott Brooks?

Scott is out of a job and he was without KD much of this season, and had significant time missed from Serge Ibaka and Russell Westbrook, and dealt with those injuries in each of the last two years. Sean Payton, Les Miles, Nick Saban - none of them buy into the injury noise and Monty should not get a pass either.

Some will say that the Pelicans are the new OKC of tomorrow. I say so what! What is OKC right now? The Thunder are a team that had three major stars, one has gone on (James Harden) to become an MVP for the Rockets while the other two are still MVP-like players for OKC. And you know what? They have no titles and they are looking for a new head coach.

Does New Orleans want that? Do the Pelicans want to be sitting here in four seasons and looking at themselves saying we went to the Finals and lost and now we still have a great core but no coach and no direction?

I'm not saying get rid of Monty for the sake of getting rid of him. If there is not a plan in place, if there is not another coach that Dell Demps thinks can be a big upgrade to the Pelicans then you must stand pat and go with Monty.

I just think there are too many times that Monty looks like he's lost and in over his head. And folks, it was not like his counterpart in round one was Phil or Pat over on the other bench. Monty had six playoff games experience on Steve Kerr and it never showed.

Telling the media that the plan was to foul Stephen Curry, and then not executing that plan falls on the coach. And those who watch this team all season long are all too familiar with the Pelicans blowing double digit leads in games.

Keep in mind Monty Williams has been a coach for five seasons and four of those five seasons Williams finished last in the Southwest Division, and has a 2-8 playoff record in two series. He's had time to learn and Dell Demps must ask, is Monty an asset or liability when it comes to bringing the Pelicans to the NBA Finals?

And what kind of coach does it take to win the Finals? You tell me. Here is a list of the coaches that are responsible for winning the league's last 15 titles. Erik Spoelstra (Heat 2 titles), Larry Brown (Pistons 1 title), Phil Jackson (Lakers 5 titles), Doc Rivers (Celtics 1 title), Rick Carlisle (Dallas 1 title), Gregg Popovich (Spurs 4 titles) and Pat Riley (Heat 1 title).

The coach that had the least experience with that group above was Erik Spoelstra and Erik had the King on his team. So is Monty in that class? Can Monty go head to head with guys of that caliber? Rivers, Carlisle, Popovich will be around for a while and they are all in the West and so is the rising Steve Kerr. Those are things to just keep in mind my fellow hoop fans!

What's next:

The early jump to offer the max deal to Davis was a beautiful move by Dell Demps. And Davis should be more than happy here in New Orleans and he should know that jumping to another team would mean he would be re-starting and going to a team that is more than likely a very bad team that has a lot of money. So I do feel more than safe that A.D. will be here for a while.

Monty Williams has one of the greatest young players in the history of the game on his team, and if the Pelicans don't win at least one title with Davis on hand, that is a failure. The best player in the world can't not have a title. Davis is all that and then some.

I feel real good about the team, the players and what Dell Demps has done. The GM's job is to bring in the players. Dell has done that. The coaches job is to coach them up and make the team better. Monty did make New Orleans better this season. But to me, making it to the playoffs was more Dell's doing than Monty's.

Folks, time is ticking and this team has title potential. Anything less than winning a title in the future is unacceptable.

And to all of you footballers out there it's time to start giving fair grades across the board. You expect the Saints to be a playoff team every year and compete to get to the Super Bowl each year as well and that to me is very fair. Well I'm telling you it's time to start expecting the same from the Pelicans. The Saints don't have the future best player in the world on their team. The Pelicans do and that to me is more than enough to know that this franchise should have a title in their near future.

Winning a title is not an unfair goal. It is the ultimate goal and the one that should be expected!
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Deke: Pelicans smart in quick action on Davis

It's a no brainer, but give credit to Dell Demps; the timing of his pitch to give MVP candiate Anthony Davis the max deal less than 24 hours after the Pelicans season came to an end was wise and smart. Demps has given Coach Monty Williams the right tools to make a complete NBA team. Demps now has his work cut out for him this off season with just six players under contract for the 2015-2016 season.

Anthony Davis, Tyreke Evans, Jrue Holiday, Ryan Anderson, Quincy Pondexter and Norris Cole are the only players that are under contract for next season. Eric Gordon has a player option but I can't imagine another team offering Gordon $15.1 million, which the Pelicans owe him next year should Gordon exercise his player option to return. Demps made some solid moves bringing in Omer Asik, Norris Cole, Dante Cunningham and others to shore up a team that had a much better roster this season, leading them to the post season for the first time in four years.

Now back to Davis. Sure other big market teams will make their big city pitch at A.D. but let me tell you there are very few places in the NBA that has a better laid out future than the New Orleans Pelicans. Davis will become the best player in the world perhaps as soon as next season, and the only thing Davis needs is more time to improve his game and more time to learn the post season do's and dont's and what it takes to get his team to the finals.

Anthony Davis can be paid $20 million more dollars over the life of his max deal than any other team in the NBA can pay him in base salary. Dell Demps making this move right now is the best and only move to make. Showing the seriousness of how vital Davis is to bringing an NBA Title to the Big Easy is very important and all Dell did is what he could do.

Not sitting back and letting other teams start the rumors (which they will anyway), but cutting off the noise about what the Pelicans will or will not do when it comes to keeping Davis is done, and the Pelicans have laid the money on the table and said we WANT YOU here!

Dell Demps made this move but he did not have to at this time. Davis is still under contract from his rookie season and he's owed just a little over seven million dollars for next year. By already offering the max deal a year before the talks are supposed to begin, Dell lets the rest of the league try and figure out what to do. Now Dell can work on bringing back the players that he feels will get this team to the next level and he can be looking ahead to a pretty good market of free agents this summer come July 1.

I think we all feel like New Orleans should still be alive in their series with Golden State instead of being swept. But making the biggest and best move after the season came to an end is a good start!
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Deke: Pelicans in 0-3 hole - now what?

It was all going so perfectly. And for the first time in the series against the top seeded Warriors, the Pelicans got what looked to be the ending we hoped for in the first two playoff games. But the ending would be far worse than the previous two, leaving the Pelicans in a 0-3 hole. Golden State stormed back from a 20 point deficit in the fourth quarter to stun the Pelicans 123-119 in overtime.

The comeback by the Warriors is the third largest comeback in NBA playoff history. "If I was the coach, I'd say I think I had a lot to do with us losing this game." Those are the words from the mouth of Charles Barkley.

Barkley was in an exchange with fellow TNT "Inside the NBA" host Shaquille O'Neal as the two greats were talking about the Pelicans loss. Barkley emphasized that he felt like coaching was the biggest issue.

I mean, what can I say? I'll be fair, but let's be real. The Pelicans have advanced and improved more in one year than many could have envisioned. This is a young team, the core players are under contract for a while. And New Orleans has the best young star in the league, Anthony Davis, on their squad.

But, I too have to raise the question about coaching. Is Coach Monty Williams supposed to be held to the same standard as his players? Does he get a pass as a young talent learning how to coach in the playoffs? Is that being fair? Or, am I being too lenient?

Also disturbing, this was the one game of the three where New Orleans got a huge boost from Ryan Anderson…yet they lost. And, man, why didn't Monty Williams do something to get Ryan the ball more in the second half? Anthony Davis took two shots in overtime! There are many frustrations in that game, but I guess that's all a part of the process of growing and maturing a team. Or, again, am I being too soft?

So, now for the next 24 hours or so, the Pelicans will hear all of the doom and gloom about being in an 0-3 hole in the NBA post season. (No team has ever come from behind from an 0-3 loss to win a series.) Will the ending to game three sour any ray of hope for this team moving forward? Hell, a win in game three would have made this series tight and a real battle.

But, the best the Pelicans can do is respond with a win and show their fans what they've seen in the first three game… a team that doesn't quit…a team that plays hard…till the final horn goes off.

All of the evaluating--what needs to be fixed, changed and or tweaked will come soon enough. Clearly this is a much better team than they were a year ago. Are they supposed to be better than what we saw on the court in the 4th quarter, blowing a 20 point lead? Yes. But, how tough is too tough or how lenient is the debate.
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Deke: Tigers are set for #1 vs #2 showdown with Aggies

LSU has seen more than their fair share of big time baseball games. But even Coach Paul Mainieri will tell you this weekend's series against Texas A&M is a little different. "It's number one versus number two. Anyone that says that the adrenaline is not flowing a little higher than normal would be lying. This should be a great series."

The #1 ranked Tigers host the #2 Texas A&M Aggies with game one of the three game series Thursday at 6:30PM right here on Tiger Radio WWL 870AM. LSU beat Tulane 6-0 Tuesday night to win for the 12th time in 13 games.

Coach said his Tigers were not looking ahead to the big SEC Showdown with the Aggies. "I thought we were totally focused on the Green Wave," he told us. "I was real pleased with the way our pitching came in and set the tone. We beat a Tulane team that has been playing well and a team that I have a great deal of respect for."

LSU pitchers combined for a one-hit shutout versus the Green Wave. "Tulane was coming off an excellent win and had been hot at the plate. So I was really pleased with the pitching effort we got from our staff," Coach continued. LSU will send Jared Poche to the mound in game one, Austin Lange starts for LSU in game two while Austin Bain will start game three for the Bayou Bengals.

Coach Mainieri says the Tigers have their hands full with the Aggies: "I can tell you that Texas A&M has a lot of great players on their team and they are pitching and hitting at a very high level this season." The Aggies climbed in the national polls after winning their first 24 games of the season.

LSU enters the key series 35-6 overall. Texas A&M is 36-5 overall.

You can listen to Bobby and Deke's entire conversation with LSU Coach Paul Mainieri by clicking below.

FULL AUDIO: Bobby and Deke talk to Coach Mainieri about LSU vs TAMU matchup
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Deke: Pelicans fall 97-87 despite better play

If we've all learned one thing in the first two games of the best of seven series between Golden State and New Orleans, it is that the younger, inexperienced team looks like anything but. After making an enormous comeback in game one, the main question going into game two was would the Pelicans play a complete game or would the #1 seed Warriors flex their muscles and prove a point?

New Orleans not only played better - one could argue even in a loss that the Pelicans had one of their best outings of the season. But this is the pros and moral victories have no place in the NBA. And the Pelicans are now in a 0-2 hole to the Golden State Warriors.

The Pelicans built a 13 point lead in the first quarter but the Warriors would quickly erase that early deficit with a big second quarter spurt. Unlike in the first game of the series in which the Pelicans seemingly saved their best play for the final moments, New Orleans did not finish out the game as they had hoped. And it would be the Warriors that upped their play in the final four minutes to take a double digit lead that turned into a double digit win.

Tyreke Evans, who was a game time decision whether or not he would play in game two, had one of the best showings as a Pelicans player. After netting just one point in game one, Evans responded with a big night scoring 16 points with 10 rebounds and seven assist.

Fellow Guard Eric Gordon was solid with 23 points in the loss to the Warriors. In game one the Pelicans quietly snuck back into the game to make things close in the final quarter; game two would see New Orleans go toe to toe with the Warriors all night long. New Orleans came out smoking and led 28-17 after the first.

Golden State did catch fire and stormed back with a big 38 point eruption in the second to take a three point 55-52 halftime lead over New Orleans. The third quarter had a pace that favored the Pelicans. New Orleans is more suited to a low scoring pace with the Pelicans winning the third quarter 19-16 to be tied 71-71 with Golden State going into fourth.

New Orleans was looking for more balanced scoring in game two after getting 71 total points combined from just three players in game one. The Pelicans got a big night from Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon in the loss and their better play will be something the Pelicans need if they are going to take game three on Thursday night.

Anthony Davis finished with 26 points including just eight points in the fourth quarter. Norris Cole gave some help in the form of 11 points while Ryan Anderson was quiet for the second straight game with just four points on the night.

Klay Thompson paced Golden State with a team high 26 points and Stephen Curry added 22 for the winners. Draymond Green was solid on both ends of the floor with his defense and Green chipped in 14 points for Golden State.

The series now shifts to the Big Easy where the Pelicans return home to Smoothie King Center and play host to the Warriors in Games three and four. New Orleans was 28-13 at home inside Smoothie King Center in the regular season. Game three is Thursday night with tipoff set for 8:30PM right here on Pelicans Radio 105.3 FM.
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Mainieri and #1 ranked Tigers are focused on Tulane

After a near washout of a weekend and a huge series coming up this weekend, LSU Coach Paul Mainieri made it abundantly clear that his Tigers are focused on the Tulane Green Wave. "I can tell you I've always had a great respect for the LSU vs Tulane rivalry. Tulane is playing some of the best baseball of the season and we know that Coach Pierce and his team will come in here and play hard. It's a great rivalry to be a part of," he said Monday.

Coach Mainieri has a rather unique position when it comes to the LSU versus Tulane rivalry as Mainieri was also on the opposite side of a Tulane rivalry when Mainieri played for the UNO Privateers and legendary coach Ron Maestri.

The Tigers are coming off another outstanding week on the diamond. LSU was a perfect 3-0 last week with a big win over Lamar followed by two wins over the Georgia Bulldogs. LSU had their Friday night game moved to Saturday where the Tigers and Dogs played a double header that saw LSU win both games.

"We were really upset that we got rained out Friday night. But I thought our players really handled things well they adjusted properly and went out and got two big wins on Saturday. Then not being able to play the third game of the series due to rain was also a disappointment."

LSU climbed back to the #1 spot in the Baseball America Top 25 and the Tigers are also #1 in the USA Today Coaches top 25 Baseball Poll. LSU upped their record to 34-6 overall and LSU has been hot, riding a four game win streak and the Tigers have been roaring going 11-1 in their last 12 games.

Up next is another in-state battle with longtime rival Tulane. According to LSU's game release the Green Wave are hitting .246 as a team, and have collected 21 homers and 35 steals in 54 attempts. Tulane's top man at the plate has been sophomore infielder Stephen Alamais. Alamais is hitting .325 with nine doubles, two triples, one home run, 15 RBI's and 20 stolen bases.

Coach David Pierce, who is in his first season as head coach of the Tulane Green Wave is also getting sound play from veteran outfielder John Gandolfo. The Senior standout is hitting .294 with four doubles, one triple, two homers and 17 RBI. The Green Wave have to be feeling good right now after a big 10-0 shutout win over the 15th ranked Central Florida Knights.

Coach Paul Mainieri said that he will send Austin Bain to the mound to start for LSU. Bain is 0-1 on the season with a 3.29 era. Bobby and I tried to squeeze in a question to Coach Mainieri about this coming weekend's SEC tilt with Texas A&M. Coach was not having it.

"Right now our focus is on Tulane. We have another big SEC series this weekend. But we take things one game at a time and this team is focused on a good Tulane team." The top ranked Tigers have been a part of and won some of the biggest games in NCAA baseball history.

Even with all of those titles the Tigers don't often host a regular season game that pits the #1 team (LSU) taking on the #2 ranked team in the nation. The Tigers will entertain 2nd ranked Texas A&M beginning Thursday night with a three game series at Alex Box Stadium.

Game time is set for 6:30PM with pre-game coverage starting at 6PM on WWL Radio 870 AM.
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Deke: Three things the Pelicans can do to even the odds tonight

Many coaches in all different sports believe that the most improvement made in a season is from the first week to the second week. Now, I'm not sure if the that applies to an NBA Playoff series. But if it does it could mean a variety of things for our New Orleans Pelicans.

Looking at game two from a positive standpoint - everyone is on the same page when it comes to experience and how each playoff game played for the young Pelicans will only allow the team to get better, more seasoned if you will and hopefully lead the team to become a legit contender every post season.

After 11 points in the first half of his first ever playoff game, young Anthony Davis poured in 24 points and finished with a game high 35 points. So as the game wore on, Davis' play improved as did the Pels' play as a team.

After going down by 23 points with just over six minutes left in the third quarter, the Pelicans responded with a14-0 run and then outscored the Warriors 33-22 in the final quarter of the game.

So if you go by the way the team played down the stretch and the hard close they finished with, you'd have to be optimistic that the Pelicans will come out and pick up where they left off - right?

That leads me to how I look at the other side, as we try to predict what will happen in game two of the playoffs tonight in Oakland. Let's just say that the Warriors come out with that embarrassing feeling that they seemed to have left the floor with over the weekend. Whether you say that the Pelicans just played hard and made a run, the Warriors let their foot off the gas, or something in between, reality is that the #1 team in the NBA squandered a near 30 point lead in the final 4 minutes of the game to a team that has the least amount of experience of any of the 16 playoff teams in the NBA.

Coaches make adjustments and then give them to their team, and bam thats that. But I feel like that Golden State coach Steve Kerr has done more of a like chewing out, getting on to his team for not playing four full quarters than he has done as far as making adjustments.

And on the flip side what other adjustments can Monty Williams do for game two? After all, his young bucks did come back from a 5 point deficit and made everyone on the West Coast super nervous as the game was up in the air with less than a minute to play.

1) Get off to a better start

New Orleans will certainly look to get off to a better start shooting the rock. After going a dismal 5-of-22 in the first quarter, the Pels shot over 64% in the second quarter going 11-17 so that gives me confidence that the team was settling in and finding better shot selections.

2) Don't fall into that hole!

When someone tells you that a team went on a 14-0 run and they were still down by 11 then that's too big, far too big of a hole to climb out of. New Orleans 14-0 run late in the third and into the fourth saw them cut the lead to 84-73 with just over 10 minutes left. Had the Pelicans been down by less, then things would have gotten tighter a lot quicker and then who knows what could have happened? Don't dig a deep hole, Birdmen!

3) Ryan, Jrue, Omer, somebody else please give us a hand!

Tyreke Evans went out in the second and did not return to the game, Jrue Holiday did not give the lift we thought he would and Ryan Anderson was non-existent.

One of the Warriors' strength is their ability to use a lot of different players to get some help on both ends of the floor. New Orleans will need more help on the boards and in scoring if they are going to steal game two from G.S.

Final thoughts

This is not amateur sports. We're talking pros here. But I was proud of the way New Orleans did not quit and the team clawed their way back into the game.

To me, New Orleans took another step in the right direction and matching the energy and intensity of the Warriors in game two of this series is going to be the toughest challenge yet for young A.D. and his Pelican teammates.

I think game two will be even harder than game one for New Orleans simply because they gave the high powered Warriors a wake up call at the end of game one. I don't expect Golden State to take New Orleans lightly tonight and I think the Warriors will try and keep the pace they had in the first three quarters of game one, all night long tonight.

I hope I'm wrong but I think the Warriors will be hard pressed to be beat in game two. We shall see!
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Deke: Spring in the books; is this LSU's year to climb back atop the SEC?

As he enters his 11th season as head coach of the LSU Tigers, Coach Les Miles looks like he has a really good team on his hands going into the 2015 schedule. Sure the main and most important question is still at the QB spot. But to me, the LSU Tigers look as balanced and sound as they have under Miles at this time of the year.

The Tigers return key players at all spots and although LSU will once again be hit hard by the NFL Draft particular on the offensive line and defensive backfield, the Tigers look like they have a chance to be pretty good.
LSU ended spring drills with their annual National L-Club Purple and White Spring Game. The White team beat the Purple Team 45-6 in Death Valley. When I look up and down the LSU roster I really don't see an eye glaring weakness.

Now remind you all that it's April and in the last few seasons, it has been the month of November that has mattered most to the Bayou Bengals. LSU brings back arguably the best RB in the country in Leonard Fournette. The sophomore from St. Augustine carried the ball eight times for 42 yards in the Purple and White Spring Game.

Fellow RB Darrel Williams gives LSU a nice one-two punch in the backfield. Williams scored on a five yard run and capped off the spring game with 40 yards on 10 carries. LSU has some good players across the board including at the Wide Receiver position.

Former John Curtis standout and current Tiger WR Malachi Dupree was big time in the Tigers spring game. Dupree hauled in four passes for 112 yards with two TD's for the White Team. LSU has no shortage of talent at WR and Dupree is one of several players at the position that have Tigers coaches and fans alike excited and more optimistic about seeing an improved passing game in 2015.

WR Desean Smith hauled in a 50 yard TD reception from third string QB Justin McMilian. And WR John Diarse had four grabs for 27 yards and last season's deep threat Travin Dural showed off his deep ball skills with a 41 yard TD reception for the White Team.

"I think the impact of Coach Tony Ball is paying off big time," said Mike Scarbourgh. "Coach Ball has been in the SEC (with UGA) for a long time and he's well respected. I think the WR position has been the most improved this spring." Coach Ball was brought in to help the Tigers passing game from the wide receiver standpoint.

LSU ranked #114 in passing yards per game in the nation in 2014 with an average of 163 yards per outing. LSU's numbers passing the ball were even worse on average in eight SEC Games gaining just 140 yards per game in SEC play a year ago.

And speaking of the Tigers QB, the final spring game numbers saw Anthony Jennings complete 13-of-20 passes for 242 yards with two TD passes. And Brandon Harris was 11-of-17 for 178 yards and two TD's.

The addition of former Ole Miss Head Coach and interim head man at USC Ed Orgeron has brought a level of energy to the Tigers program that to me it seems like has been well received thus far. Orgeron has to be somewhat pleased with some of the things he saw his defensive linemen do in the spring game. LSU has two of the SEC's best young D-Linemen in Davon Godchaux and Maquedius Bain. Bain had a whale of a showing with three sacks while Godchaux had two tackles with one QB takedown to close out spring drills.

I think the Tigers D-Line will be the most improved part of the team in 2015. All seven of the Tigers defensive linemen that started in the Purple and White Spring Game enter the 2015 season as underclassmen. There were no senior starters on the D-Line in the spring game meaning that the future is bright at the position.

Christian LaCouture, Tashawn Bower, Frank Herron, Deondre Clark and Greg Gilmore give me good reason to be even more optimistic about an improved defensive front for LSU. LSU has had some of the premiere defensive backs in all of college football the last handful of seasons. And 2015 will again feature some of the best DB's in the land.

LSU got some good news in the form of a verbal commitment. St. Thomas Aquinas Defensive Lineman Edward Alexander committed to LSU for the class of 2016. Alexander is a 6-3 328 DL that is considered one of the best in the nation ranked as the 4th best interior defensive lineman.

Other than Alabama, I don't know of any school's that has their defensive backfield raided by the NFL and they just keep on restocking the position. True Freshman Kevin Tolliver II made his presence felt in his first every outing in Tiger Stadium with an interception in the spring game.

So now that spring practice is in the books up next off season work and then the season opener for the Tigers on Saturday September 5th with a home date against McNeese State. Is 2015 the year in which LSU gets back to the top of the SEC?

Look let's face it, Alabama is still the best program in the SEC and to me the best in the nation. But after Alabama I think things are wide open in the SEC. LSU will once again be in close November games that will be decided by a TD or less.

And unless the Tigers get better, more consistent play out of the QB spot, then the chances of the Tigers winning those close November games is far less than not. If the QB plays well, then I don't see why this team can't accomplish their goals of getting back to the SEC Title Game in Atlanta.
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Deke: Despite losing, Pelicans looking confident in final quarter

There would be just one lead change in the game, and after a brief and I do mean brief lead for the New Orleans Pelicans it was all Golden State until the fourth quarter when New Orleans came to life. Golden State beat New Orleans 106-99. The Warriors held off the young Pelicans to take a 1-0 lead in the best of seven series. Game two is Monday night in Oakland.

New Orleans looked done late in the third quarter of the game, but the Pelicans made a furious comeback, cutting the lead to just five points with less than a minute to play in the game. New Orleans turned up the defensive pressure on the Warriors in the final 14 minutes of the game to serve notice that the upstart team from the Big Easy will not go quietly in this opening round series.

Anthony Davis played like an MVP, scoring 24 points in the second half and finishing with a game high 35 in his first ever playoff game in the NBA. Stephen Curry led Golden State with 34 points.

After a 4-0 start the home team went off and rolled out to a 12-1 spurt to take a 12-5 lead. Going into the series, Bobby and I talked about how the Warriors get overlooked when it comes to their defense.

The Warriors defense was excellent early on as they held New Orleans to 5-of-22 shots from the field in the first quarter of the game. Golden State would flirt with a double digit lead for most of the first quarter and led after the horn sounded 28-13.

The Warriors' Stephen Curry scored a game high 19 points in the first half while teammate Klay Thompson added 11 to lead Golden State. The Pelicans made a quick two minute run early in the second quarter as they cut the Warriors lead to 36-29. New Orleans outscored Golden State 9-2 in a two minute and twenty second span. But that run and spark to life was short lived as the Warriors closed the first half going on a 15-2 run to claim an 18 point halftime lead up 49-41.

More bad news would come in the form of injury - Tyreke Evans left the game in the second quarter with a knee injury. Then later in the third quarter it was announced that Evans would not return to the game, suffering a knee contusion.

The first half numbers were in big favor of Golden State. The Warriors shot 56% from the field while the Pelicans were 16-of-39 for 41%. The Warriors defense was solid as they allowed only one point scored from Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday combined. Anthony Davis had 11 and Quincy Poindexter scored eight points in the first two quarters of the game.

The Warriors would come out to start the third quarter as they did the contest, increasing their lead to 64-46 in the first four minutes of the second half. Golden State then made it real ugly later in the third.

Andre Iguodala nailed a wide open three pointer to put his team up 69-46 with 6:01 left in the third. The 23 point lead would be the largest of the game up to that point for the Warriors. Golden State would go on and cruise to their 40th home win of the season with a victory over New Orleans.

Then the Pelicans took over the final 14 minutes, making a game of it. Quincy Pondexter hit some big shots down the stretch as did Eric Gordon. Pondexter ended the game with 20 points while Gordon had 16. New Orleans outscored the Warriors 33-22 in the final stanza and gained a lot of confidence moving forward to the next game in the series.

The Pelicans are now down 0-1 in the best of seven series. Game two is Monday Night from Oracle, Arena in Oakland. Tipoff is set for 9:30PM but WWL's Pelicans coverage begins during sports talk with Bobby Hebert and Deke Bellavia beginning at 4PM.
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Deke: The Pelicans' time is coming, but maybe not against Warriors

Sure there are those true believers out there, but to all of you who seemingly know it all about all sports, NBA basketball is a different beast. The better team always wins in a series. This is not football. This is not one game. It's a best of seven series, meaning that each team has to win four games in order to move on.

Golden State is the better team. How much better I'm not quite ready to predict that. Sure Golden State played by far the best overall basketball throughout the entire 82 game regular season. But the Warriors are also facing a Pelicans team that is getting healthy and they are set on the floor with their prime time players for the first time, basically, this season.

Golden State is not that much of a deeper team it's just that the Warriors have been deeper, healthier longer this season. Golden State has the #1 defense in the league and the #2 offense in the NBA.

Fire power in the backcourt, front court and off the bench make this the team to beat in the Western Conference this season. No front court in the NBA has the defensive prowess of the Warriors. Center Andrew Bogut and Forward Draymond Green and a deadly combination when in comes to defending opposing players. So our MVP Anthony Davis is going to have his work cut out for him.

Stephen Curry gets all the ink - as he should - and Klay Thompson is as good of a shooter as this league has seen. But its the Warriors early season ability to commit to what new Coach Steve Kerr taught them more about playing team ball on both ends of the floor - that's what has everyone and I mean everyone picking this team to get to the Finals.

And when you can lean on a player like Harrison Barnes, and bring a guy like Andre Iguodala off the bench, then it stands to reason why this team won 67 games including 39 home games in the regular season.

On the Pels side of things like I said earlier it's a matter of which team has played with depth the longest that makes a difference to me. GM Dell Demps' addition of Norris Cole, Dante Cunningham and Quincy Pondexter has made the Pelicans a legit deep NBA Team. If these guys continue to play well then each game in this series will be contested and tight to the finish.

I think someone like Ryan Anderson has to show up big in this series. Anderson can shoot but can he help carry the team? Anderson has to be better than he has ever been before and he can't be huge in one half and disappear in the other in this series.

Big Chief's Final Call

Hey some of my all time favorite (and best) NBA Series in the playoffs have not been that close in the win and loss columns. I go back to the late 1990's when the #1 seeded Chicago Bulls took on the #8 seed Washington Bullets.

The Bulls took game one by 12 behind MJ's 55 points. Game two saw the Bulls win by five points with things being tight till the final 30 seconds. And game three saw Scottie Pippen dunked the Bulls to the second round with 7.4 seconds left to sweep off the talented Chris Weber led Bullets.

Really folks I could see each game in this series being one that the Pelcians have a shot to win. But again I go back to our deep south, Big Easy, football mentality and that is we tend to equate everything to football.

Well this is a series and not one game. The Pelicans time is coming. This is part of the process. But right now the Warriors are a complete team while the Pelicans are trying to become one.

In an entertaining series I'll give the Pelicans two wins and call it Golden State in six winning the series 4-2.
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Deke: Three things to watch at LSU Spring Game

It's as plain-jane vanilla as they come on the football field. Yes, there was more action, more drama and more real season-like play going on at one of the previous practice sessions than any of us will see tomorrow when LSU holds their annual Spring Game.

But we can still toss out a few things to keep an eye on. Let's begin shall we?

1. The QB Battle
If this were late August, Coach Miles would have already told us that he would make a decision prior to kickoff to which player he would start under center. I have no reason to believe that incumbent QB Anthony Jennings is not going to be the QB that starts the season. Brandon Harris might develop into a great player. But if he was all that right now, he would be the guy. And he's not. So let's see what happens in Tiger Stadium.

A year ago I was impressed and had a positive take on Harris and Jennings as I thought both had their moments in the 2014 Spring Game. If at the very least, both QB's have now had another full year under Coach Cam Cameron and each QB should be much more comfortable in their abilities to lead the offense. If I was a decent young QB I'd pick LSU in a heartbeat. It's a system that is not designed for a QB to carry the weight of the team, the team is loaded with talent each year. And completing about 12-18 passes a game is about the most an LSU QB should be expected to do. We shall see, I guess!

2. The newly-led Tigers defense

With a new Defensive Coordinator in Kevin Steele and new D-Line Coach in Ed Orgeron, there is a little more excitement going into this Spring Game than in past seasons. Steele and Orgeron are more animated than John Chavis and both bring a certain level of energy to the field that should benefit the players and the fans should enjoy as well. Will MLB Kendall Beckwith develop into one of the nation's premier players like he was expected to do coming out of high school? Will the Tigers depth in their defensive backfield allow Orgeron to take more chances and turn his front line loose more often, as LSU has lacked a consistent pass rush in the last few seasons? And can the Tigers get back to taking the ball away more often than not?

3. Getting what they paid for
With the highest paid coaching staff in the nation, LSU fans will point out that they should be getting more bang for their buck! LSU is a program that expects to be in the hunt for the SEC Title each season but a 4-4 SEC mark won't cut it. To me, this is a crucial year for Coach Les Miles. He has made some tweaks to his coaching staff, and he is in a dog fight with Alabama and other SEC schools to secure some of the nation's best prospects that happen to be from right here in Louisiana. And fans are exhausted with the program's inability to sign, develop and send into the game a capable quarterback that can just do his job.

With a good year, another solid signing class and the biggest question of all which is the QB spot, the Tigers can not only be better this season, but really set up the next few years with bright success should they finally find the right QB. But as of right now the highest paid CFB Staff is a few wins short of producing the kind of results that go along with that high price tag!
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Payton: Having five draft picks in first three rounds is significant

With the most draft picks in his possession since he's been in charge of the New Orleans Saints, Coach Sean Payton says that the 2015 NFL Draft is very important for his club. "It's exciting because we have an opportunity to bring in some new faces to our team." Payton joined Bobby Hebert and I Wednesday on Sports Talk.

Coach Payton said that the Saints are currently going through their final board readings, making sure that he and his staff have all of the best information possible on each player.

The Saints own two first round picks (13 & 31), one second round pick (44th overall), two third round picks (75th and 78th), one 6th round pick (187th) and the Black and Gold's final selection in the 2015 NFL Draft is a seventh round selection and the 230th overall pick.

Bobby asked Coach Payton about how important it is for the Saints moving forward to be better in the takeaway department. "With regards to turnovers, we've got to collectively do a better job. It starts with us (coaches). Turnovers prevent you from winning games. Being better in creating turnovers can be the difference of having a five hundered season or season that's a 13 win season." Coach Payton said that the Saints also have do be better at closing out games next season which he felt like was an area that the Saints were not good enough in.

"I think we Saints look at each draft more from a position standpoint. This is where there is a little bit of an art to moving out of a pick or moving up in a round and how each team sees the value in players." Coach Payton went on to talk about the overall depth in the 2015 NFL Draft, he spoke about the club's recent signings including guys like RB C.J. Spiller, CB Brandon Brower and Center Max Unger. And Coach Payton signed off saying that he's pulling hard for the Pelicans.

You can listen to the entire interview by clicking below.

FULL AUDIO: Sean Payton talks 2015 NFL Draft with Bobby and Deke
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Deke: What's next for the Pelicans? NBA Playoffs, that's what

After an 82 game regular season schedule, the New Orleans Pelicans season goal has been reached. For the first time in four seasons the Pelicans are in the Western Conference Playoffs.

New Orleans beat the defending World Champion San Antonio Spurs 108-103 in a must win situation to keep their season alive. New Orleans is the 8th seed and they will take on the #1 seeded Golden State Warriors.nGolden State had the best record in the league this season and is led by arguably the best player in the league in Stephen Curry. Game one of the best of seven series will be on Saturday at Golden State.

With a rising young star in MVP candidate Anthony Davis and a roster that has skilled players and poses tough match-ups in all phases of the game, many experts think that the Pelicans can make things interesting against the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the Western Conference Playoffs.

All Pelicans games can be heard on the flagship of your New Orleans Pelicans WWL Radio FM 105.3. During the regular season the Pelicans more than held their own against the NBA's best team with the series being 3-1 in favor of New Orleans.

"All I know is that the Pelicans are in the playoffs. This is huge for the City of New Orleans and everyone should be on the Pelicans bandwagon now," said a fired up Cajun Cannon right after the playoff-clinching win over the Spurs.

New Orleans is guaranteed at least two more home games at Smoothie King Center with games three and four being in New Orleans. The best of seven series format is 2-2-1-1-1.

Anthony Davis played like an MVP with 31 points 13 boards and three blocked shots. Two of Davis' three blocked shots came in a crucial stretch in the fourth quarter. Davis now has a total of 501 blocked shots in his three year NBA Career. Tyreke Evans was salty with 19 points while Eric Gordon added 14 for the winning team.

With the New Orleans Pelicans making the playoffs, more history has been made. For just the third time in NBA history all teams from the same division are in the playoffs.

Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Memphis and New Orleans are all playing in the Western Conference Playoffs. So now the Big Easy can get ready for another taste of big time NBA playoff basketball.

This is just the second time in Monty Williams' five seasons that the Pelicans are in the post season. After leading New Orleans to the post season in 2011, the team has failed to qualify for the playoffs in each of the last three seasons.

Folks this is where you earn your stars so to speak. The regular season is for players. Stars are made and legends cement their status in league history by what they do in the playoffs. And right now I'm telling you this team is respected league wide, they have a player that has a skill set and and upside that no one else in the NBA has, and they are a team that has become much deeper with a bench that can give them a boost.

The Anthony Davis era just took another leap forward and if Davis is to become the MVP that everyone knows he can be, he will start to make a name for himself during the most important time of the year. The playoffs!
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Deke: Pelicans are one win away from the playoffs!

And then there was one! Well folks it will take a full 82 game regular season schedule to decide which team lands in the eighth and final playoff spot in the NBA's Western Conference.

The New Orleans Pelicans are now one win away from securing a playoff berth after a 100-88 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. After struggling to score 22 first quarter points, the Pelicans got red hot towards the end of the first half to take control of the game.

Pelicans fans kept a sharp eye on the Thunder as Oklahoma City took care of their business as they knocked off the Portland Trailblazers 101-90 to improve to 44-37. OKC must finish a full game ahead of New Orleans to earn a playoff berth.

Oklahoma City will play at Minnesota on Wednesday night while the Pelicans take on the league's hottest team in the San Antonio Spurs. A win and the Pelicans are in the playoffs.

After a sluggish start early in the game, the Pelicans got hot in the second quarter. Up 25-22 with just over eight minutes left in the first half, the Pelicans closed the half with a huge 25-13 run including a 17-5 run in the last 4:36 of the half. New Orleans led 50-35 at the break.

Minnesota outscored New Orleans 27-23 in the third quarter to make it look respectable - but to me the game was never really that close after the Pelicans big run to end the first half.

New Orleans sealed their 44th win of the season when Omer Asik slamed the door shut on the short handed Wolves to make the score 94-83 with 2:39 left in the game.

Chase Budinger had 18 markers for Minnesota while Zach LaVine's 24 points led the Wolves. Tyreke Evans was the hot handed Pelicans scorer with 22 points, and Eric Gordon added 22 as well. Anthony Davis had another solid night with 24 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.

New Orleans can still get into the post season even if they lose to the Spurs, but would need the Timberwolves to beat OKC in order for that to happen. Minnesota has lost 11 straight games.

Tip off is set for 7PM Wednesday Night at Smoothie King Center and you can listen to the biggest game of the season on Pelicans Radio 105.3FM.
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Deke: Pelicans fall, but still in 8th place

The Rockets' fast-paced offense and a bad second half of Pelicans defense kept New Orleans from inching closer to the NBA playoffs. Houston beat New Orleans 121-114 to keep their hopes for the #8 seed in the West alive.

The two biggest things that killed the Pelicans were free throws and fast break points. Houston had a 21-0 edge in fast break points and the Rockets made of 34-of-48 free throws while New Orleans was just 15-of-22 from the foul line.

On the flip side, the Pelicans could have reduced their magic number to make the post season to one victory but failed to do so. The Pelicans did get some help as the Indiana Pacers took care of the Oklahoma City Thunder 116-104.

The Pelicans can secure the 8th seed in the Western Conference by having the same record as the OKC Thunder as New Orleans won the season series against OKC. With two games left, both clubs have identical 43-37 records.

After going down by 13-11 the Pelicans took over the game for much of the first half. New Orleans closed the first quarter with a 17-9 run to take a six point 28-22 lead after the first stanza.

Jrue Holiday canned a three ball just before the first quarter horn sounded to give the Pels a nice lead. New Orleans could have easily been up by far more points had they played more disciplined ball.

The Pelicans did not attempt a single free throw in the first quarter but they helped the Rockets stay in the game, sending them to the charity strike ten times, and Houston made all 10 of their free throws.

The Pelicans would continue to play well in the first half, pushing their lead to seven points up 31-24 with 8:48 left in the second quarter. New Orleans kept the home team in a hole, taking a 55-52 lead with them into the locker room at halftime.

Ryan Anderson was red hot with 15 points off the bench in the first half while Anthony Davis added 11 for New Orleans. James Harden paced the Rockets with 16 first half points.

The Rockets took back control of the game in the third quarter with a 34 point output. Houston outscored the Pelicans 34-31 as James Harden continued to have the hot hand scoring 14 points in the third to bring his total to 30 points with a full quarter left to play.

Houston made a living on the fast break with a 16-0 edge in fast break points in three quarters of play. Houston also made 18-of-23 free throws through three quarters as well.

Houston would threaten to pull away from the Pelicans taking a nine point 100-91 with 8:11 left in regulation. Houston kept the metal to the pedal as they just pushed the ball up the floor at a pace that New Orleans could not keep up with. Simply put the Rockets once again showed why they are one of the best teams in the league when it comes to scoring in transition.

Houston had a 10 point lead 112-102 with just over three minutes left in the game. James Harden was not alone in having a big scoring night for Houston. Josh Smith and Corey Brewer killed the Pelicans coming off the Rockets bench. Smith scored 15 and Brewer had 20. Dwight Howard added 19 for the winners.

New Orleans was led by Anthony Davis' 27 points. After a hot first half, Houston did a number on Ryan Anderson as the sharp shooter was held without scoring a single point in the second half of the game.

Jrue Holiday had a nice night with 17 points. So now it's down to just two games left in the regular season with a road game at Minnesota tomorrow night followed by their regular season finale hosting the Spurs Wednesday Night at Smoothie King Center.
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