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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!" 

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Twitter: @dekebigchief
Email: bigchief@wwl.com
Posts from May 2014


Deke: Tigers take care of business in win over Cougars
Two down and one to go for the LSU Tigers baseball team!  LSU squared off against the Houston Cougars in the fourth game of the Baton Rouge Regional, and both teams were coming off wins, setting up a show down in the winner's bracket. The Tigers handled their business with a 5-1 win over the Cougars.  The Tigers now just need to win one more game to advance and host next weekend’s Super Regional in Baton Rouge.  

Ace Aaron Nola started the game for the Tigers on the mound. Nola is as close to a sure thing that there ever has been in LSU baseball history.  For a program that has won six national titles, not many have been as dominant and near perfect. In his seven plus inning pitched the Tigers Ace allowed one run on four hits and he struck out seven Cougars before leaving the mound to the roar of a standing ovation at Alex Box Stadium.  Zac Person came in to take over for Nola. 

 

After going up and down in order in the first inning, LSU’s Conner Hale hit a single up the middle for an RBI, as McMullen came home to give the Tigers an early 1-0 lead over the Cougars. 

The Cougars would tie the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the inning, and looked as if they were going to do more damage.  The Cougars had bases loaded, but Tigers shortstop Alex Bregman made a nice catch to end the threat, leaving the scored tied at 1-1.

The Tigers then came up to bat in the third with the top of the LSU order coming to the plate.  LSU would get off to a good start in the inning, as Mark Laird drew a walk to give the Tigers a man on base.

Alex Bregman did his job advancing Laird on a deep fly ball, and then Jake Fraley hit a single to advance Laird to third base, followed by another Single from Sean McMullen to score Laird and the Tigers took a 2-1 lead.

The Tigers would add to their lead when Connor Hale drove in Sean McMullen on a single, as LSU increased their lead to 3-1 in the top of the third inning.  Tigers pitcher Aaron Nola got into a nice groove as he retired seven straight Cougars during the Tigers hot stretch in which LSU built a lead.

49 of Nola’s first 72 pitches were strikes.  With LSU leading 3-1, Aaron Nola would get into a groove that not many pitchers can ever find.  Nola entered a stretch in which he retired 13 of 14 batters to help protect the Tigers' two run lead.

With the “Nola” factor in full effect, the Tigers threatened to blow the game wide open in the seventh inning.  Christian Ibarra would single, followed by a walk by Kramer Robertson, giving LSU runners on first and second.
 
The Tigers started to roll!  Mark Laird would step to the plate and hit a single for LSU as Ibarra scored putting the Tigers up 4-1.  Then Alex Bregman would single scoring Kramer Robertson and LSU increased their lead to 5-1 with just one out in the top half of the seventh inning. 

Aaron Nola would then continue another masterful performance as the nation’s best pitcher, shutting down Cougar after Cougar.  In five of the first seven innings Nola pitched, he would sit down each Cougar in order 1-2-3.

 

Seeing things get out of hand, the Cougars went to their bullpen to make a pitching change.  Matt Locus would come in the game to pitch for Houston.  Locus had the task of trying to work Houston out of a jam with his club down 5-1 and the Tigers fans roaring loud and proud in front of an overflow crowd at Alex Box Stadium.

The Tigers would maintain their four-run lead and go on to beat Houston 5-1.  Joe Broussard closed the game in relief for the Tigers.  The Tigers had 12 hits in their win over the Cougars.  LSU picked up their 46th win of the season and will now face the winner of the Houston versus Southeastern Game tomorrow night at 7PM right here on WWL Radio. 
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Deke: Tigers come from behind to beat SLU 8-4
The 82nd meeting between the LSU Tigers and Southeastern Lions was a good one as the Tigers prevailed 8-4 to advance to the winners bracket in the Baton Rouge Regional.  The top seeded Tigers had their hands full with the fourth seeded Lions.  
 
Down 4-2 going into the bottom of the seventh inning, the Tigers erupted for four runs in their final two at bats…to down the Lions 8-4.  LSU picked up their 45th win of the season and will face either Houston or Bryant tomorrow night at 7pm right here on WWL Radio.  
 
The Lions did not waste time in serving notice that they were not a team just happy to be playing in a regional.  The Lions opened everyone’s eyes in the top of the first inning, when Andrew Godbold homered to left centerfield giving the Lions an early 1-0 lead.  

 
 
The Tigers got runners in scoring position in the bottom half of the first, but the Lions would get out of a jam and maintained a 1-0 lead over LSU.  The Tigers tied the game in the second inning, when Tyler Moore crossed home plate on a wild pitch.  LSU and SLU were tied at 1-1.  The Tigers later took their first lead of the game in the third inning.
 
During the bottom of the third LSU's Sean McMullen had an RBI, as Mark Laird scored to make it 2-1 LSU.  Credit the Lions as the Tigers would once again leave men on base, and Southeastern limited the damage to one run in the third to trail just 2-1 going into the fourth inning.
 
Then in the top of the fifth inning, SLU tied the game, when Jacob Williams doubled into the left centerfield gap for an RBI as Kyle Cedotal scored tied the game 2-2.  SLU later took a two run 4-2 lead, before the Tigers took control of the game in the bottom of the seventh inning.
 
LSU tied the game up at 4-4.  Then, the final blow of the game came when Sean McMullen homered to left centerfield collecting 2 RBI’s giving the Tigers a commanding 8-4 lead.  Tigers fans got behind the home team and the Lions got rattled in the later innings.  
 
LSU had eight runs on 14 hits but stranded ten in their 8-4 win over the Lions.  
 
Catch the Tigers next game Saturday night against Houston, pre-game 6:30; 1st pitch 7pm on WWL, the BIG 870-AM and 105.3 WWL-FM.
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Deke: Baton Rouge Regional Preview: LSU Tigers
In sports, it’s all about right now.  And right now, the LSU Tigers baseball team is simply on fire.  LSU is riding an eight game win streak, scoring runs at an alarming rate and playing their best ball of the season.

Because of their strong finish, the Tigers earned the #8 national seed in the NCAA Baseball Tournament.  LSU will host the Baton Rouge Regional with the Tigers opening game coming against a familiar foe. 

READ MORE: Deke: Baton Rouge Regional Preview: Southeastern Lions


“We already played them in the middle of the week, and didn't face their number one starter. It will be fun to face them and their top pitcher. I'm sure their guys are really excited to face us! There was a bizarre play where the catcher threw the ball in the dugout to score a couple of runs. They haven't played in The Box this year so I don't know how they will adapt to playing in front of such a big crowd. You can throw out everything that happened in the regular season!”

Those are the words spoken from LSU Coach Paul Mainieri when asked about the first meeting of the season between his Tigers and the Southeastern Lions.  LSU beat Southeastern 7-3 in what was a pretty competitive game. 

Southeastern is in the Baton Rouge Regional after earning an automatic bid in the NCAA Tournament in the Lions 9-4 Southland Conference Tournament title victory against Central Arkansas.

The Lions are in regional play for the first time since 1994.  LSU scored a whopping 31 runs in four SEC Tournament games averaging 7.8 runs per game.  LSU gave up just four runs in four games last week in Hoover.

The numbers are staggering in favor of the Tigers.  And now, LSU knows that the road to Omaha goes through Alex Box Stadium.  Should the Tigers advance this weekend, they would host a Super Regional next weekend. 

During their eight game hot streak, the Tigers have done well in all phases of the game.  “I know our hitting gets a lot of attention, but our pitching has been outstanding.  This is going to be a tough regional and we will need to play at a high level,” Mainieri said.

The Tigers will go with Jared Poche’ against the SLU Lions on Friday.  After getting off to a tough start last week against Vanderbilt, Poche’ shut down the Commodores in the Tigers 11-1 win over Vanderbilt.

Poche’ is ready to take the mound for the Tigers.  “I am very excited. I will definitely have a little adrenaline going, like my first SEC start. I know that I will need to go out there, really slow things down and just be myself.”

SLU Coach Matt Riser says his Lions are looking forward to facing the Bayou Bengals. “I think it’s a great matchup against LSU. We are excited to play LSU and for the opportunity. We are writing our story right now, and we aren’t finished yet.”

The Lions will start their best pitcher against LSU, as Andro Cutura goes to the mound for Southeastern.  Cutura leads SLU with a 10-2 record in 15 starts this season.  Cutura has an ERA of 1.72 and he pitched the second most innings for SLU this season with 99.2 innings pitched.

Coverage of the LSU versus Southeastern game begins at 1:30PM today with first pitch slated for 2PM. 
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Deke: Baton Rouge Regional Preview: Bryant Bulldogs
The Bryant University Bulldogs are back in NCAA Regional play again in 2014, winning the Northeast title as well as the conference tournament title.  Bryant beat Sacred Heart 6-2 in 12 innings to capture the Northeast Tournament title.  

The Bulldogs have been playing arguably their best ball of the season as Bryant is 10-2 in their last 12 games.  Bryant ‘s Team batting average is .304 and the Bulldogs have belted out 39 Home Runs this season.  Bryant enters the Baton Rouge Regional as the #3 seed and they will face the #2 seeded Houston Cougars Friday Night at Alex Box Stadium on the LSU Campus.  

Below are a few notes on the Bryant Bulldogs: 
2014 Record:  42-14
School Location:  Smithfield, Rhode Island 
School Colors:  Black and Gold 
Mascot:  Bulldogs 
Conference:  Northeast (Regular Season and conference tournament champions)  
Head Coach:  Steve Owens 

Top Bulldogs batters:
#5 AJ Zarozny .398 33 hits with 16 RBI’s and 5 Home Runs
#3 Buck McCarthy .353 47 hits 29 RBI’s and 4 Home Runs
#1 Cole Fabio .340 34 hits
#12 Matt Albanese .329 leads the team with 69 hits and has 36 RBI’s
#18 Carl Anderson .316 68 hits, has a team high 40 RBI’s and leads the team in Home Runs with seven
#6 Tom Cavitt .325 with 6 Home Runs
#25 Robby Rim .309 with 56 hits
#42 John Mullen .301 with 58 hits

Bulldogs pitching: 
The Bulldogs have a team ERA of .293.  The Bulldogs ace is #16 Craig Schlitter.  Schlitter is 10-1 this season with a 1.95 ERA and he was the NEC Tournament MVP.   #22 Vaughn Hayward has also put up good numbers on the mound for the Bulldogs this season.  

Hayward is 9-2 with a 2.41 ERA.  Fellow Pitcher #31 Kevin Mcavoy is 9-1 this season with a 2.81 ERA.  #9 Trevor Lacosse is 4-3 on the season with a 2.94 ERA.  Lacosse leads the Bulldogs in saves this season with eight to his credit.  
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Deke: Bobby and Hokie like what they see at OTAs
As the media was escorted out to watch today’s Saints OTAs, members of the media quickly began to look up and down their rosters to see which players were participating in today’s practice.  One player that was absent was new addition Jairus Byrd.

READ MORE: Kristian: Byrd has surgery, defense forcing turnovers

Saints Coach Sean Payton told the media that Jairus Byrd would be out the next several weeks due to back surgery he had.  Coach Payton said that if this had been the regular season, Byrd would not have had the surgery. With Byrd having back surgery now, he will be ready for training camp, which begins July 24th in West Virginia.

After stretching this morning, the Saints began working in position groups, then moved to team offense versus team defense.  Our pros, Bobby Hebert and Hokie Gajan, give a few of the high points from today’s Saints OTA.  

PHOTOS: Saints defense shines at OTAs

From the eyes of the Cajun Cannon 
WR Robert Meachum made a nice play on the second snap of team drills.  The veteran Wide Receiver took a handoff from QB Drew Brees on an end around play.  “Meachum made a few nice plays this morning.  He also had four catches,” said the Cajun Cannon Bobby Hebert.

Fellow wide receiver #88 Nick Toon had a few catches.  “This is an important year for Toon.  He really needs to have a very good training camp.  And making plays during the OTAs is a good start.”

The Saints defense was very active this morning.  DL Akiem Hicks batted down a ball on the first play of team drills.  And two plays later, safety Rafael Bush stripped the ball out of WR Marques Colston’s hands while CB Patrick Robinson scooped up the loose ball.

“You can tell that the Saints defense is making an emphasis on creating turnovers.  The defense did a good job of flying to the ball. But, there were a couple of missed opportunities on creating a few more turnovers.” Hebert said.

Veteran CB #27 Champ Bailey had a nice pass break-up that could have been picked off, and linebacker #58 Kyle Knox picked off a pass.  Bailey broke up a pass from QB #7 Luke McCown. 

And OLB #96 Chidera Uzo-Diribe recovered a fumble during team drills.

Another thing that caught Bobby's attention was the play-making abilities of running backs Travaris Cadet and Khiry Robinson. “They both catch the ball well with their hands coming out of the backfield.”

Hokie’s Call
There are not many folks that have been associated with the Saints franchise for over 30 years.  Former Saints FB, team scout and current Saints color analyst Hokie Gajan has been with the Saints since 1981.

Hokie says he uses Saints OTA’s as an opportunity to get familiar with the new players that are on the roster.  “I get me a roster, and try and begin to memorize the newer players and which jersey number they are wearing,” Gajan said.

Hokie was impressed with a pass break-up that veteran CB Champ Bailey made.  And Gajan was also impressed with the play of rookie running back Derrick Strozier.  Strozier, who played at Tulane, is trying to make the roster as a RB with the Saints.

“If you’re a guy that is considered a long shot to make a roster, you have to take advantage of every opportunity you can.  If a player sticks out to us (media) at practice, they are sticking out to the coaches as well.”

Hokie went on to say that the coaches get a more in-depth and up close look at the players when the staff breaks down film.  “The coaches are looking for all the little things and details that players are instructed to do.  They want to make sure that the players are lined up exactly where they are supposed to be, they have to be in the right place at the right time.  And the players have to make plays.”

Hokie said that he likes the fact that the Saints are going away for a few weeks for training camp.  “Going away eliminates a lot of distractions.  By being away from home, players can focus more on football.  And I believe that team comraderie is formed and the players get more comfortable with each other.”
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Deke: Baton Rouge Regional Preview: Southeastern Lions
The Southeastern Louisiana University Lions are making their first NCAA postseason appearance since 1994.  SLU earned an automatic berth into the NCAA Regional’s by winning the Southland Conference Tournament Title. 

Southeastern beat Central Arkansas 9-4.  And the Lions are currently riding a six game win streak entering this weekend’s Baton Rouge Regional. Coach Matt Riser is in his first season as Head Coach of the Lions.

The Tigers beat the Lions 7-3 back in February.  The game was tied 2-2 in the fifth inning before LSU scored four runs in the sixth to take control of the game.  “Both teams are completely different teams from that first meeting.  I know we are excited to play in a regional and we are looking forward to the challenge,” said Lions Coach Matt Riser. 

READ MORE: Teams ready to play in Baton Rouge Regional

Below is a little information on the Southeastern University Lions. 

School Location:  Hammond, Louisiana

School Colors: Green and Gold

Mascot:  Lions

Conference:  Southland

Head Coach:  Matt Riser

2014 Record:  (37-23) 

FULL AUDIO: Bobby and Deke talk to Southeastern Coach Matt Riser

Top Players:

#23 Jameson Fisher – Fisher is batting an impressive .394 which is 11th best in the nation this season.  He leads SLU in batting average, hits (89) and Fisher has 37 RBI’s to his credit.

#35 Andrew Godbold:  Godbold leads the Lions with a team high 57 RBI’s this season.  Godbold is batting .348 has collected 7 hits and he is the team leader in Home Runs with 8 this season.

#22 Brett Hoffman is batting .321 which is third best among Lions batters this season.  Hoffman has 71 hits, 1 Home Run and 41 RBI’s. 

#21 Daniel Midvett bats .299, he has 47 hits and 31 RBI’s.

#2 Kevin Carr has an average of .290 with 20 hits and 10 RBI’s/

Lions pitching:

#Andro Cutura leads SLU with a 10-2 record in 15 starts this season.  Cutura has an ERA of 1.72 and he pitched the second most innings for SLU this season with 99.2 innings pitched.

#18 Tate Scioneaux is second on the Lions Roster with seven wins (7-6) this season.  Tate has pitched more innings (104.1) than any other Lions Pitcher.  He has a 3.11 ERA and was recently named the Southland Conference Tournament MVP. 

#28 Dylan Hills 6-3 1.89 ERA this season and Hills leads the Lions with a team high five saves this season. 

#25 Sean Kennel 5-3 3.74 ERA

#11 Kyle Keller 3-3 3.92 ERA  
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Deke: Baton Rouge Regional Preview: Houston Cougars
2014 Record:  44-15

Conference:  American Athletic (Tournament Champions)

Head Coach:  Todd Whitting 

Starting Pitchers:  Aaron Garza (2.65 ERA, 8-4), Jake Lemoine (2.35 ERA, 6-6) and David Longville (2.98 ERA, 1-0)

The Bullpen: Tyler Ford (8-0) 1.26 ERA and Chase Wellbrock (4-0) with 12 saves and a 1.15 ERA in 20 appearances
As a pitching staff, the Cougars have walked just 103 hitters all season, while striking out 390, while holding opponents to a .225 average.

Top players:
Houston was hot at the plate in their conference tournament last week.  The Cougars posted a team average of .373 collecting 56 hits and scored 28 runs in four games.   Cougars senior Casey Grayson leads the team with a .335 average, 73 hits, 48 RBI, 16 doubles and 46 walks.   Sophomore Kyle Survance is hitting .315 with a team-high 46 runs scored and 30 stolen bases in just 37 attempts.

No one had a better tournament showing that Houston Sophomore Josh Vidales.   Vidales is coming off huge week.  The Sophomore second baseman hit .733 in four conference tournament games and he was named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.

Noteworthy:  
Houston won 12 of their last 15 games this season and earned a berth in the NCAA Regionals for the first time since 2008.  The Cougars are 10th in RPI Ratings and they have the best ERA in the nation.

Houston will be making their 19th NCAA Regional appearance.  In the 18 previous appearances, the Cougars have advanced to the Super Regional’s three times with the last coming in 2003.  The Cougars are a perfect 37-0 this season when they have the lead after the eighth inning.  

From the coaches mouth:
 The Houston Cougars have one of the best overall records in college baseball this season.  Houston was a team that many felt did enough in the regular season to earn a host site.  “We felt like we built a good enough resume to host a regional,” said Cougars Coach Todd Whitting.

The Cougars beat up #5 Louisville 10-4 in the American Athletic Conference Title and earn the automatic bid in the NCAA Tournament.  “We are a really good team.  We don’t have any superstars.  This is a blue collar team that just loves to go out and compete.”  

FULL AUDIO: Bobby and Deke talk to Houston Baseball Coach Todd Whitting
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Deke: A banner year for Louisiana baseball!
Two teams with national seeds and three conference tournament champions all from the same state!  2014 has been a banner year in the Bayou State as LSU, UL-Lafayette and Southeastern are all playing in regionals this weekend.

ULL and LSU are two of the eight national seeds this post-season.  “To have two teams as national seeds and three teams in regional play speaks volumes about the level of play in our state,” said LSU Coach Paul Mainieri.  

The Tigers picked up the #8 national seed ending their season with an eight-game win streak that included winning the 2014 SEC Tournament title with a 2-0 win over Florida.  

FULL AUDIO: Bobby and Deke talk to LSU Head Coach Paul Mainieri about regionals

And meanwhile over in western Louisiana, the Ragin' Cajuns are one of the best teams in the nation!  They have eight more wins than any other team in the nation.  They are ranked #2 overall and they have earned the 6th national seed.  The Cajuns are also riding the nation’s longest win streak, with 10 straight wins. 

“We can do a lot of things,” said ULL Coach Tony Robichaux.  “We’ve been able to play consistently throughout the season.”  The Cajuns compiled a 53-7 overall record this year.  

The Cajuns also picked up a 4-1 win over #1 LSU earlier this season, and then took two of three from #21 Alabama.  Coach Robichaux says his team has done well so far, but now, it’s all about the post-season.
“We have to play big.  We’ve been good this entire season, now we have to be good over the course of the next few weekends.”  ULL will entertain Jackson State Friday.  

San Diego State and Mississippi State are the other teams in the ULL Regional this weekend.  

FULL AUDIO: Bobby and Deke talk to ULL Head Coach Tony Robichaux about regionals

The Southeastern Lions earned a spot in the NCAA Regionals by capturing the 2014 Southland Conference Tournament title.  The Lions beat the Central Arkansas Sugar Bears 9-4 to win their first ever SLC title.
“Going into the (SLC) tournament we felt like any one of the teams could have won the tournament.  We were able to put it all together and win the title,” said Southeastern Coach Matt Riser.

Riser is in his first season as head coach of the Lions leading SLU to the NCAA Regionals against LSU.  Southeastern will battle LSU at 2PM on Friday right here on WWL Radio.  The Tigers beat the Lions 7-3 back in February.  The game was tied 2-2 in the fifth inning before LSU scored four runs in the sixth to take control of the game.

“Both teams are completely different teams from that first meeting.  I know we are excited to play in a regional and we are looking forward to the challenge.”  To listen to Bobby and Deke’s interviews with ULL Coach Tony Robichaux and SLU Coach Matt Riser click below.  

FULL AUDIO: Bobby and Deke talk to SLU Head Coach Matt Riser about regionals
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Deke: Tigers set to host regional
The Tigers have won eight straight games, and they are arguably the best team in the nation! “I know our hitting gets a lot of publicity, but our pitching has been phenomenal,” said LSU Coach Paul Mainieri.

Mainieri guided the Tigers to the schools' 11th SEC Tournament Title with a 2-0 win over Florida Sunday in Hoover, Alabama.  Mainieri has dominated the SEC since he arrived in Baton Rouge, with a 22-4 record and five SEC tourney titles under his belt.

LSU learned Monday morning that they landed the #8 national seed and will play host to Southeastern, Bryant and Houston this week in NCAA Regional action.   "Anytime you’re in a regional, you’re going to see good teams.  We have three very good teams coming here.  We feel like our regional is one of the tougher ones,” said Mainieri.

The Tigers will take on Southeastern Friday at 2PM while Bryant takes on Houston in game two on Friday.  In order to earn one of the nation’s top eight seeds, the Tigers went on an impressive eight game win streak.
During their eight game win streak the Tigers scored 87 runs, banged out 110 hits and allowed only eight runs during their win streak.  

The Tigers rolled into the SEC tournament scoring 31 runs while allowing only four.  Coach Mainieri expects some tough competition this weekend at the Baton Rouge Regional.  “It’s a regional with excellent ball clubs.  “We (LSU) are going to have to play at a very high level to advance.”  

LSU takes on Southeastern Friday Afternoon right here on WWL Radio.  

FULL AUDIO: Bobby and Deke talk to LSU Head Baseball Coach Paul Mainieri about NCAA regionals
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Deke: Tigers roll into SEC title game
If the current streak the LSU Tigers Baseball Team is not the most impressive in school history well it has to be pretty damn close!

Now take into consideration what time of year it is, the level of competition and given what's on the line.  LSU is simply on fire right now.  

"We're very proud of the way we swung the bats, and it was a good, full-team effort.  We’re excited about playing in the championship game.  I think it’s a great experience for our players knowing they are going to wake tomorrow and play for a championship. I want them to get used to that feeling. I have a sense they will be excited to play tomorrow, " said Paul Mainieri.  

For the second time in three days LSU scored 11 runs as their SEC semi-final game against Arkansas was cut short due to the mercy rule.  LSU won 11-1

Just a sample of the accomplishemnts the Tigers have piled up during their current seven game win streak: 104 hits, 85 runs scored, 7 straight wins for a 43-14-1 overall record.

Paul Mainieri's record at the SEC tourney is 21-4 with 4 tourney titles to his credit, and his team is in the SEC title game for 17th time in school history (10 tourney titles won).

Scores in seven game win steak 
27-0 vs Northwestern State
10-0  Vs Auburn
11-3 Vs Auburn
8-1 Vs Auburn 
11-1 vs Vanderbilt
7-2 vs Arkansas
11-1 vs Arkansas
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Deke: Tigers rolling into SEC semi-finals
No disrespect to either Arkansas or Ole Miss, but come on, does it really matter who?  What I’m saying is that the LSU baseball team is in the zone right now.  And regardless who the Tigers face, they will be hard pressed to be beaten. 

The Tigers are on fire.  They have won 6 straight games and are taking the day off after yesterday’s 7-2 win over Arkansas.  They've scored 10 or more runs in four of their last six games.  The Tigers have outscored their last six opponents by a combined 74-4.

Going into this week’s SEC Tournament, some felt the Tigers had to win a game or two to secure a regional host site.  Now, some of the chatter is that the Tigers could possibly land a top eight national seed should they go on to win this year’s SEC Tournament.

“Any time when you give the ball to Nola, you feel confident about your chances. You know, I thought he struggled through that first inning like (Jared) Poché yesterday with limited damage. It could have been worse.  We could have gotten ourselves in a pretty big hole there, but he pitched out of it like he typically does,” said LSU Coach Paul Mainieri after the Tigers 7-2 win over Arkansas.

Coach Paul Mainieri and the Tigers fell behind in both of their tournament games so far, but after falling behind against the Commodores and Hogs, the Tigers outscored Vanderbilt and Arkansas a combined 18-1. 

LSU is clicking on all cylinders right now.  Poché and Nola have been superb on the mound, to say the least, while the Tigers' bats are as hot as they have been in quite some time.  LSU got a day off on Friday to rest, while their next opponent goes through more pitchers and gets a little more fatigued having to play another game. 

LSU faces Arkansas in an elimination game Saturday at noon right here on WWL Radio.  If the Tigers win, they would advance to the SEC Tournament title game on Sunday!
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Deke: Tigers set to battle Vanderbilt
The SEC Tournament is here, and the #3 seeded LSU Tigers will battle the Vanderbilt Commodores Wednesday morning at 9:30AM here on WWL Radio.

“We won’t try and adjust too much,” Coach Mainieri said today on Sports Talk. “We will try and go out and do the same things we’ve done all season long.”  

The Tigers earned a first round bye in the SEC tourney and will now face the Commodores, who eliminated Tennessee with a 3-2 win over the Vols.

Jared Poche will go to the mound for the Tigers as he faces arguably best pitcher in the nation in Vanderbilt’s Tyler Beede.  The Tigers are 40-14-1 on the season, and are ranked #14 in the Collegiate Baseball Top 25 as well as #14 in the Baseball America Top 25 poll.

Mainieri went on to talk about the Tigers strong play heading into the SEC Tournament, and we asked if he thought his team needed to win a few games in order to secure a spot as a regional host next week when the NCAA Baseball Tournament begins.

“I feel like we’ve earned that already. Would it help if we won some games?  I’m quite sure it would.  We’ve won 40 games already and we are the #3 seed in the SEC.  To me that speaks volumes. But you never know what the selection committee is thinking.”  

FULL AUDIO: Bobby and Deke talk to Coach Mainieri ahead of SEC tournament
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Deke: Hard to argue with the Saints choices!
Let's be real. If you're a long time, diehard forever-type Who Dat, you know about some of the boo-boo's that have been made in the history of the Saints franchise when it comes to the NFL Draft.

For many years, Saints fans would find themselves saying after drafts things like "Why did they do that? What the hell are they thinking? Who is that guy?"  But it's been a long time since the Who Dat Nation has been perplexed or dumbfounded. In the "what-have-you-done-for-me-lately" state of the National Football League, the New Orleans Saints have made the NFL Draft their top priority and the proof is in the pudding... and Saints fan satisfaction.

There are a handful of teams that the rest of the NFL is trying to model themselves after.  New Orleans is now one of those model franchises. Many, many teams in the NFL wanna be the Saints!

Despite having the least amount of NFL Draft picks over the last five years, New Orleans has been an elite team.  The Saints won 11 or more regular season games in four of the last five seasons.

The Saints entire front office does their homework. They've landed top-tier undrafted free agents and quality tryout players.

Just a year ago seven - count 'em - seven undrafted players were a part of the Saints season.  Did you know RB Khiry Robinson made the NFL the hard way? The most difficult route to making the NFL is that of a tryout player.

A tryout player is not an undrafted free agent.  A tryout player gets an invite to participate in rookie mini-camp.  Then, after the rookie mini-camp is completed, teams offer contracts to players who make an impression. Robinson not only made an impression a year ago as a tryout player, he later made the Saints roster!  That's earning a living the hard way.

I'm sure Mickey Loomis, Sean Payton and the rest of the Saints brass have their secret formula for bringing in the best talent. But to me, the main reason the Saints are an elite team is because they are fair, and they keep their word to incoming players.  We've all heard coaches on every level in every sport say "we are going with the best players."  

But in New Orleans they practice what they preach.  The Saints' willingness to take the best player, regardless of how he may have landed in New Orleans, is why the Saints are a legit contender on a yearly basis.

The record books show Loomis and Payton have put undrafted players on their roster many times over drafted players.  Why?  Because they go with the best.  In life, all we can really ask for is a fair shot.  The Saints give players a fair shot.

New Orleans, Louisiana has become a destination for players who want to achieve the NFL dream.  Players who are considered camp bodies, long shots and even those who seemingly could never make it in this league have come to New Orleans and earned a spot with the Saints.

So when training camp rolls around, veteran players as well as newcomers know when they come to the Crescent City, bring your best; outperform the rest; and you could wear the Black & Gold. To be the best; you have to beat the best. And the Saints are a club that takes the best players, no matter their origin. with them into battle.
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Deke: An exclusive interview with Saints GM Mickey Loomis
On the eve of the NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints are ready to make their first round pick at #27.  The Cajun Cannon Bobby Hebert and I sat down for a pre-draft visit with Executive Vice President/General Manager of the New Orleans Saints Mickey Loomis.

“I really wish I could meet with you guys (media) a few days after the draft.  This time of year, I think we keep things close to the vest and make sure that we (Saints Staff) are doing everything we can to be as best prepared for the draft as possible,” Loomis said.

During our 15 minute conversation, Loomis talked about the number of players the Saints worked out prior to the draft.  “We were able to work out a lot of players, our scouts went to many pro-days across the country and we were able to sit down and interview many players.”

Loomis talked about the importance of being able to land top-flight undrafted players over the course of the last several drafts.  In the past five NFL Drafts, no other team in the league has had less picks than the Saints. I asked Loomis, did the lower number of picks make landing undrafted players more important?

“I don’t know if it makes things more important because our goal is always to bring in the best players to our club.  We’ve had a lot of success with undrafted players making big contributions to our team.”  Loomis feels like the 2014 NFL Draft has a lot of quality players available from top to bottom.  

Hear the entire interview by clicking below:

FULL AUDIO: Bobby and Deke talk to Saints GM on day before NFL Draft
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Deke: SI's Peter King tells me Graham will be a WR!
On the day that the NFLPA filed a grievance in support of Saints tight end Jimmy Graham, Bobby and I visited with Sports Illustrated Senior Writer Peter King.  "Unfortunately, I think the arbitrator will rule that Jimmy Graham is a wide receiver," he told us.

READ MORE: Kristian: Graham appeal filed - tight end or receiver?
 
King elaborated on why he is not in favor of what he thinks the arbitrator will decide, and also gave his take on the Saints loss of RB Darren Sproles.  
 
King also thinks that the 2014 Draft will receive higher ratings than in years past, and thinks that the NFL is open to possibly moving the annual NFL Draft to different locations. 

To listen to our exclusive interview with Peter King click below.  

FULL AUDIO: Bobby and Deke talk to Sports Illustrated Senior Writer Peter King
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Deke: What were the best Saints Draft picks of all time?
I’ll make this short and sweet.  All I did was jot down a few notes on what are think are three of the best draft picks in Saints history; I took the value approach here, meaning these guys I have listed are late round picks that went on to have and are having great careers in Black and Gold.  So here we go!

READ MORE: Deke: What were the worst Saints draft picks of all time?

Danny Abramowicz, WR out of Xavier – In the 17th round of the 1967 Draft, the New Orleans Saints took this longshot WR with the 420th overall pick in the draft.  Danny became the Saints go-to guy on offense as he put up numbers that made him respected across the league. During the 1968, 1969, and 1970 seasons Abramowciz ranked in the Top 10 in the NFL in both receptions and receiving yards.  Before Joe Horn and Marques Colston came along, Danny held the record for just about every major WR stat.  

Jim Wilks,  DE out of San Diego State – Wilks was taken by the Saints in the 1981 Draft.  "Big Jim" was the first pick of the 12th and final round in '81.  There were only 320 players drafted in 1981 and Wilks was the 305th overall selection.  Wilks played for 13 seasons with the Saints, and in the process he became one of the most important players in Saints history.  “We could not have done some of the things we did without guys like Jim Wilks.  He was a real key to our success defensively,” said Hall of Fame LB Rickey Jackson.

Marques Colston, WR out of Hofstra – Hell, Hofstra does not even have a football program anymore.  Only three players were taken after Colston heard his name called in 2006!  This little-known WR was the 252nd overall pick in the seventh and final round of the '06 draft.  Only 255 players were drafted that year!  

Each year, when talks of greatest steals in draft history are discussed, Colston’s name pops up on everyone’s list.  In eight seasons, Colston has taken every major receiving stat and surpassed it.  Colston and Drew Brees will go down as one of the most successful QB/WR duos in football history.  

After starting out slow in training camp in 2006, Colston caught fire as camp progressed and became an impact player for the Saints early in the 2006 season and he has continued his solid, consistent and productive play for eight seasons.  Arguably the best pick in Saints history any way you look at it! 
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Deke: What should the Saints do with their first pick?
Less than three days remain before the 2014 NFL Draft begins and teams are making final adjustments to their draft boards.  And as WWL Draft Fest nears everyone is making their predictions on what the Saints will do with their first pick.

READ MORE: WWL Saints Draft Fest LIVE on location May 8-10

"There are a handful of players I think the Saints have their eyes on.  But will those players still be on the board," said the Cajun Cannon Bobby Hebert. Hebert thinks the Saints' top needs are defensive end/outside linebacker, cornerback and wide receiver.

The Saints currently own the 27th pick in the first round of the NFL Draft.

As for me, I think the Saints will have plenty of good wide receivers to choose from when they come up to pick in the first round.  

 

And for three days of wall to wall draft coverage and the latest on the Saints tune in to 870AM/FM 105.3 and stay logged on to wwl.com
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Deke: What were the worst Saints Draft picks of all time?
Next weekend, the Saints will be participating in the NFL Draft for the 48th time.  As of late, not many can argue with the picks made by the Black and Gold, as New Orleans is a team that has won 11 or more regular season games in four of the last five years.  But anyone can give their input on who are the worst picks in Saints history. 

I’ve come up with the three players that I think are the worst of all time.  There are more that come to mind, but this is my list! 

Russell Erxleben, K/P Texas – Say what?  A kicker. A kicker with the 11th overall pick in the NFL Draft!  The Saints made that blunder in the 1979 Draft, shocking the football world.  At the time, Erxleben was the second highest selection of a kicker in draft history.  And what added more salt to this embarrassing wound is that the next two players to come off the board were LSU running back Charles Alexander and Missouri tight end Kellen Winslow.  Winslow later was inducted to the Hall of Fame!

Jonathan Sullivan, DT Georgia – The Saints gave up their 17th pick in the first round as well as their 18th pick in the first round to move up to the #6 spot.  New Orleans selected UGA defensive tackle Jonathan Sullivan.  Sullivan was a flat out bust. He lasted three seasons in the Big Easy and then was traded to the New England Patriots.  Sully battled weight problems, never became worthy of even being close to living up to his draft status.  And his selection meant that the Saints made yet another bad move. 

Shawn Knight, DE BYU – Widely considered the worst draft pick in New Orleans Saints History, Knight was horrible.  In fact you’d be hard pressed to find many others, if any, players that were a team’s first round pick and then lasted just one season with that particular club.

Knight was taken by the Saints with the 11th overall pick in the 1987 NFL Draft.  Knight was brought in to help add to an already super powerful Saints defense.  Knight was terrible from the first day he came to New Orleans and he was just as bad when the Saints shipped him off to Denver less than a year later.  To me, he is the worst pick in Saints franchise history! 

So there’s my take.   Only gave three.  There are several more.  Give me your opinion!
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Deke: Saints Draft class of 2006 was a huge value!
Since Sean Payton has been in New Orleans, the Saints franchise has set new records on all fronts.  In eight seasons, the Saints have been to the NFL Playoffs five times, won 11 or more regular season games in four of the last five seasons, been to two NFC title games, and of course won a World Championship; all in the same span.

You can point at many things as to why these Saints have been so successful, but the draft class of 2006 was the foundation of this success.  The Saints made eight draft selections in the 2006 NFL Draft; of those six, the ,pst obviously high-profile selection was Reggie Bush.

Bush fell into the Saints' lap when the Houston Texans decided to go with N.C. State DE Mario Williams.  When the name Reggie Bush was called, the excitement began, and then the Saints franchise said goodbye to years of "almost" and "close calls" to become a club that many others now envy. The Saints class of 2006 has so much value across the board, one could argue that that class is the best in Saints history, as well as one of the best the NFL has seen in nearly 10 years.  Aside from Reggie Bush, the Saints went on to draft five more players that would become starters on the roster. Did you know that six of the Saints Draft picks in 2006 are still starting players in the NFL Today?

The Saints went on to land S Roman Harper in the second round.  Harper made an immediate impact with the Saints, and lasted eight seasons before moving on to Carolina earlier this year.

One of the most decorated offensive linemen in Saints history was taken in the fourth round when the Black and Gold called on OL Jahri Evans.  In eight years, Evans is considered one of the best OGs in the NFL. 

With their fifth round pick the Saints took DE Rob Ninkovich from Purdue.  Ninkovich had good moments in New Orleans, but has seen his success expand greatly. He is now a starter and has been for several seasons with the New England Patriots.

And in the Saints best seventh round ever (and perhaps the one of the best seventh rounds by a club since the league reduced the number of rounds in the draft to seven back in 1994), the Black and Gold cashed in big time.
LT Zach Strief was picked out of Northwestern.  Strief became a key utility player along the Saints O-Line and has now locked down the starting right tackle position.  And Strief has seen two nice contract extensions with the Saints as well.

Finally, we end with a look at one of the greatest late-round grabs in the history of sports.  Little-known WR Marques Colston out of Hofstra came to the Big Easy as a Compensatory Selection. Colston was the fourth-to-last pick with the 252nd overall selection.  Marques Colston has been incredible.  Colston has earned every major stat in his favor in club history in eight seasons. Marques is hailed as arguably the greatest value pick in Black and Gold history.  And he and Drew Brees will go down as one of the top four QB/WR tandems from a production standpoint in the history of the league when it is all said and done. 

So a quick recap! Eight players were taken by the Saints in the 2006 Draft.  Six of those eight are still in the league and have been productive players in the NFL for eight seasons.  And three of the eight players taken in the 2006 draft by the Saints are key veteran players with the club today.  Those three players (Colston, Strief and Evans) are all considered some of the best at their positions.  Value indeed! 
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Deke: Durant's "reliability" proves too much for Grizzlies
On the same day that he had to answer questions about a newspaper article that called him “Mr. Unreliable," OKC’s Kevin Durant had a monster game in the Thunder’s 104-84 win over Memphis.  The win allows OKC to force a game seven between these two clubs Saturday in Oklahoma.

Sometimes attention grabbing headlines can backfire.  And we are in the midst of possibly seeing a huge mistake made on the part of the Oklahoman newspaper.  Did the headlines motivate KD?  Did the extra attention that came along with the negative headline serve as a slice of humble pie to the possible NBA MVP?  I can’t drop the science on that one, but I’ll tell you that Durant matched a playoff high with 36 points and he has put his team back in the Western Conference Title hunt.

Folks, I’m telling you if you have not been watching these NBA Playoffs you are missing some historic, must-see drama.  On and off the court, the NBA has raised its game and the ratings should serve up some of the best the league has seen.

We’ve seen a record number of overtime games in the first round, an owner has been banned for life, and the MVP (more than likely) of the league called out by his hometown newspaper.  Wow!  Ain’t dat something?  
To those who get into playoff hoops, we are now going to be treated to at least two game sevens over the weekend.  Atlanta and Indiana battle it out, and OKC will take on Memphis in two winners-move-on match-ups.

And as far as the Oklahoman headline about Durant, let’s just say that KD has flipped the script on the paper and if the Thunder win and advance, KD will once again have what he has had all along.  The whole city will be behind him.  And the roar of the OKC fans will be as loud as Thunder!  
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