WBRZ http://www.wbrz.com/ WBRZ News News en-us Copyright 2019, WBRZ. All Rights Reserved. Feed content is not avaialble for commercial use. () () Thu, 21 Mar 2019 HH:03:ss GMT Synapse CMS 10 WBRZ http://www.wbrz.com/ 144 25 Louisiana borrowing $185M to start interstate projects http://www.wbrz.com/news/louisiana-borrowing-185m-to-start-interstate-projects/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/louisiana-borrowing-185m-to-start-interstate-projects/ News Thu, 21 Mar 2019 10:51:39 AM Associated Press Louisiana borrowing $185M to start interstate projects
BATON ROUGE (AP) - Louisiana will borrow $185 million in April to finance highly sought roadwork ranging from widening of Interstate 10 in the capital city to a new Interstate 20 access for Barksdale Air Force Base.
  
The Bond Commission quickly agreed to the plans Thursday. Louisiana will sell bonds to investors for upfront cash, paying the debt off over 15 years with federal highway dollars the state receives.
  
Four projects totaling an estimated $650 million to complete will share in the money. More borrowing will be needed within two years to keep the work going.
  
In addition to the Baton Rouge and Bossier City projects, the money will help pay for an I-10 interchange to serve a new terminal at the New Orleans airport and a bridge and tunnel replacement in Plaquemines Parish.

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David Letterman: I stayed on network TV for too long http://www.wbrz.com/news/david-letterman-i-stayed-on-network-tv-for-too-long/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/david-letterman-i-stayed-on-network-tv-for-too-long/ News Thu, 21 Mar 2019 9:39:48 AM Associated Press David Letterman: I stayed on network TV for too long

NEW YORK (AP) - David Letterman says he stuck around on network television about 10 years too long.

He made that revelation during an appearance Thursday on Ellen DeGeneres' talk show. Letterman quit in 2015 after 33 years as a late-night host on CBS and NBC, and is beginning his second season on his more leisurely-paced Netflix show.

Letterman says it turns out nobody had the guts to fire him. He says it took leaving the show for him to realize that there's more to life than asking some celebrity to "tell us about your pet beaver."


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Trump to order colleges to back free speech or lose funding http://www.wbrz.com/news/trump-to-order-colleges-to-back-free-speech-or-lose-funding/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/trump-to-order-colleges-to-back-free-speech-or-lose-funding/ News Thu, 21 Mar 2019 9:15:05 AM Associated Press Trump to order colleges to back free speech or lose funding

President Donald Trump is expected to order U.S. colleges to protect free speech on their campuses or risk losing federal funding.

White House officials say Trump on Thursday will sign an executive order requiring colleges to certify that their policies support free speech as a condition of receiving federal research grants. Trump initially proposed the idea during a March 2 speech to conservative activists.

The Republican president highlighted the case of activist Hayden Williams, who was punched in the face while recruiting at the University of California, Berkeley. Berkeley and other colleges have countered that they already have policies protecting free speech and don't need an executive order.

The new order will not jeopardize schools' access to student financial aid that covers tuition. Officials say implementation details will be worked out in the coming months.


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Weather permitting drivers could see closures on Airline Highway, interstates http://www.wbrz.com/news/weather-permitting-drivers-could-see-closures-on-airline-highway-interstates/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/weather-permitting-drivers-could-see-closures-on-airline-highway-interstates/ News Thu, 21 Mar 2019 8:55:15 AM WBRZ Staff Weather permitting drivers could see closures on Airline Highway, interstates

BATON ROUGE - According to DOTD, there could be lane closures on multiple roadways at the end of the month. 

The closures all depend on the weather.

Airline Highway northbound and southbound between Greenwell Street and the Mississippi River Bridge may have one lane closed from March 25 to March 29. The closure would run from 8 p.m. each night until 5 a.m. the following morning. 

From March 22 through March 29 there will be closures on I-12 and I-10 from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m.

At least one lane will be open at all times in the following locations:

-I-12 Eastbound and Westbound between I-10/ I-12 split and the Livingston Parish Line 
-I-10 Eastbound and Westbound between Acadian Thruway and the I-10/ I-12 split 
-College Dr. between I-10 Eastbound Exit 158 Ramp and Corporate Blvd. WB

All closures are necessary for pavement patching and related work.


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Overturned 18-wheeler closes roadway in St. Gabriel http://www.wbrz.com/news/overturned-18-wheeler-closes-roadway-in-st-gabriel/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/overturned-18-wheeler-closes-roadway-in-st-gabriel/ News Thu, 21 Mar 2019 8:38:07 AM WBRZ Staff Overturned 18-wheeler closes roadway in St. Gabriel

IBERVILLE PARISH - Authorities were called to a morning crash involving an 18-wheeler on Highway 30 in St. Gabriel. 

According to the St. Gabriel Police Department, the roadway is closed at Laurie Lane.

No injuries were reported. According to police, the cause of the crash is under investigation.


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First artificial intelligence Google Doodle features Bach http://www.wbrz.com/news/first-artificial-intelligence-google-doodle-features-bach/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/first-artificial-intelligence-google-doodle-features-bach/ News Thu, 21 Mar 2019 8:13:00 AM Associated Press First artificial intelligence Google Doodle features Bach

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (AP) - Google is celebrating composer Johann Sebastian Bach with its first artificial intelligence-powered Doodle.

Thursday's animated Google Doodle shows the composer playing an organ in celebration of his March 21, 1685, birthday under the old Julian calendar. It encourages users to compose their own two-measure melody.

Google says the Doodle uses machine learning to "harmonize the custom melody into Bach's signature music style." Bach's chorales were known for having four voices carrying their own melodic line.

To develop the AI Doodle, Google teams created a machine-learning model that was trained on 306 of Bach's chorale harmonizations. Another team worked to allow machine learning to occur within the web browser instead of on its servers.

The Doodle will prompt users who are unsure of how to interact with the animated graphic.


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DOTD filling pothole jams traffic on I-10 East http://www.wbrz.com/news/dotd-filling-pothole-jams-traffic-on-i-10-east/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/dotd-filling-pothole-jams-traffic-on-i-10-east/ News Thu, 21 Mar 2019 7:41:50 AM WBRZ Staff DOTD filling pothole jams traffic on I-10 East

BATON ROUGE - Crews are working to repair a pothole after at least one car broke down Thursday morning on I-10.

The incident was reported before 6 a.m. at College Drive. According to DOTD, the middle and right lanes are closed for concrete patching. Officials say the left lane will be open to traffic at all times. 

Drivers can expect heavy delays in the area.

The lanes are anticipated to be reopened by 11 p.m., according to DOTD. 


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Two arrested for leading law enforcement on multi-parish chase http://www.wbrz.com/news/two-arrested-for-leading-law-enforcement-on-multi-parish-chase/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/two-arrested-for-leading-law-enforcement-on-multi-parish-chase/ News Thu, 21 Mar 2019 7:37:39 AM WBRZ Staff Two arrested for leading law enforcement on multi-parish chase

LAKE CHARLES - Authorities arrested two men for leading Louisiana State Police and other law enforcement agencies on a chase Wednesday morning from Lake Charles to Lafayette.

Shortly after 8 a.m., troopers attempted to stop a 2013 Chevrolet Sonic for a traffic violation on I-10 west of Iowa. The driver, identified as 35-year-old Keith Harris, failed to stop.

State police say Harris lead law enforcement on a chase through several parishes before the things ended in Lafayette. The chase ended after Harris hit two vehicles as he exited I-10 onto Ambassador Caffery Parkway. Authorities say the chase lasted 65 minutes.

Harris and his passenger, 28-year-old Qwayland Michael, fled the scene and went towards a nearby hotel. Michael was caught in the parking lot, while Harris was arrested in a maintenance closet within the hotel.

Harris was charged with aggravated flight, resisting by flight, reckless operation, hit-and-run, passing on the shoulder, improper lane use, no driver’s license, and no seat belt. Harris was processed at the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center before being transported to Lake Charles and booked into Calcasieu Correctional Center.

Authorities say Qwayland was arrested and booked into the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center for resisting by flight and for an active warrant.


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Mississippi governor set to sign 'heartbeat' abortion law http://www.wbrz.com/news/mississippi-governor-set-to-sign-heartbeat-abortion-law/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/mississippi-governor-set-to-sign-heartbeat-abortion-law/ News Thu, 21 Mar 2019 7:05:51 AM Associated Press Mississippi governor set to sign 'heartbeat' abortion law

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Gov. Phil Bryant says he's not worried about lawsuits as Mississippi prepares to enact one of the strictest abortion laws in the nation.

The Republican governor is scheduled to sign a bill Thursday to outlaw most abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, about six weeks into pregnancy. The New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights calls it "blatantly unconstitutional" and says it will sue Mississippi to try to block the law from taking effect on July 1.

Mississippi is one of several states considering similar bills this year.

Abortion opponents are emboldened by new conservatives on the Supreme Court and are seeking cases to challenge the court's 1973 ruling the legalized abortion nationwide.

"The term 'heartbeat bill' is a manipulative misnomer," the center tweeted. "These bills actually rob women of their choice to have an abortion before they even know they're pregnant."

Bryant tweeted in response: "We will all answer to the good Lord one day. I will say in this instance, 'I fought for the lives of innocent babies, even under the threat of legal action.'"

The Mississippi bill says a physician who performs an abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected could face revocation of his or her medical license. The bill also says abortions could be allowed after a fetal heartbeat is found if a pregnancy endangers a woman's life or one of her major bodily functions.

The House and Senate both rejected efforts to allow exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest. Georgia and Tennessee are among the states considering similar bills. Kentucky's law was immediately challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union when Republican Gov. Matt Bevin on March 14, and a federal judge has temporarily blocked it.


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Bond hearing Wayde Sims' accused killer pushed to June http://www.wbrz.com/news/bond-hearing-wayde-sims-accused-killer-pushed-to-june/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/bond-hearing-wayde-sims-accused-killer-pushed-to-june/ News Thu, 21 Mar 2019 6:42:50 AM WBRZ Staff Bond hearing Wayde Sims' accused killer pushed to June

BATON ROUGE - The man accused of killing former LSU basketball player Wayde Sims last year will have to wait until June to push for a lower bond.

Simpson was originally due to make his case in court Thursday, but his bond hearing was pushed back to June 10. 

Earlier this month, Dyteon Simpson sent a handwritten note to Judge Don Johnson asking his current bond of $350,000 to be lowered.

Simpson allegedly shot Sims after he intervened in a fight between the now-accused killer and one of Sims' friends. Video recorded by bystanders appeared to show Simpson firing a single shot at Sims.

In the note, Simpson called himself a "productive" and "independent" person who's "totally remorseful." The note also claims Simpson's family is struggling without him, specifically citing his mother, her four other children, and his own 5-month-old.

To read the full note, click here. 


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Man accused of attacking woman, pulling her from truck http://www.wbrz.com/news/man-accused-of-attacking-woman-pulling-her-from-truck/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/man-accused-of-attacking-woman-pulling-her-from-truck/ News Thu, 21 Mar 2019 6:29:09 AM WBRZ Staff Man accused of attacking woman, pulling her from truck

BATON ROUGE - Police arrested man accused of beating a woman Wednesday on Chippewa Street.

According to the victim, Dexter Collins hit her several times in the face with a closed fist. He also allegedly pulled her out of a truck by her arm.

During the attack, authorities say the victim went in and out of consciousness. One of the officers noticed the woman had gash and a bump on the side of her head. She was taken to a local hospital for treatment.

Collins was arrested and charged with second-degree battery.


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LIVE UPDATES: Tuesday morning commute http://www.wbrz.com/news/live-updates-tuesday-morning-commute-118685/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/live-updates-tuesday-morning-commute-118685/ News Thu, 21 Mar 2019 6:17:46 AM Ashley Fruge' LIVE UPDATES: Tuesday morning commute


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Two killed after car crashes into salon, causes fire in New Orleans http://www.wbrz.com/news/two-killed-after-car-crashes-into-salon-causes-fire-in-new-orleans/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/two-killed-after-car-crashes-into-salon-causes-fire-in-new-orleans/ News Thu, 21 Mar 2019 6:04:30 AM WBRZ Staff Two killed after car crashes into salon, causes fire in New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS - Multiple people are dead after an attempted traffic stop ended in a crash and fire at a New Orleans beauty salon Wednesday night.

Two people were killed and four others were seriously injured after a car crashed into Unity-1 Beauty Supply Hair Salon at the corner of Washington Avenue and S. White Street sometime after 8 p.m., according to WWL-TV.  New Orleans Police Superintendent Chief Shaun Ferguson said officers attempted to pull over what they thought was a stolen car at the corner of Toledano and Derbigny Street.

Authorities say the car didn't stop when police used their lights and instead sped up.  Soon after, officers reported smoke in the distance.

Police initially reported two people inside the car and a customer getting her hair done were killed. However, Thursday morning a spokesperson for the police department said the customer rescued from the burning building suffered serious burns but was still alive.

Two minors and another woman were also seriously injured.

Ferguson told WWL the crash and fire are under investigation.


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Man accused of sending threatening texts, social media messages http://www.wbrz.com/news/man-accused-of-sending-threatening-texts-social-media-messages/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/man-accused-of-sending-threatening-texts-social-media-messages/ News Thu, 21 Mar 2019 5:37:05 AM WBRZ Staff Man accused of sending threatening texts, social media messages

BATON ROUGE - Authorities arrested a man accused of sending several threatening messages via text and social media.

The first incident happened on May 29, 2017, according to arrest documents. Authorities say Lyndon Johnson sent a victim 50 threatening text messages.

Johnson also allegedly tried to reach the victim on social media, forcing her to block him. After being blocked, the suspect allegedly started leaving threatening comments on the victim's photos on another social media site.

Authorities say the second incident happened on June 3, 2017. Johnston allegedly called the victim 60 times and sent threatening text messages saying he was to kill the woman and a member of her family.

Johnston was arrested and charged with two counts of improper telephone communication and cyberstalking.


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Woman charged with manslaughter in boy's hot-vehicle death http://www.wbrz.com/news/woman-charged-with-manslaughter-in-boy-s-hot-vehicle-death/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/woman-charged-with-manslaughter-in-boy-s-hot-vehicle-death/ News Thu, 21 Mar 2019 5:12:06 AM Associated Press Woman charged with manslaughter in boy's hot-vehicle death

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - Authorities say a Florida woman has been charged in the death of a 4-year-old boy who was left in a hot minivan for more than six hours.

The Orlando Sentinel reports 27-year-old Mariah Butler was arrested Tuesday and charged with aggravated manslaughter and child neglect. The Orange County Sheriff's Office says Logan Starling was one of five children that Butler brought to the Elite Preparatory Academy, where she worked as an administrative assistant, in September.

Investigators say Butler didn't realize she left Logan in her vehicle until the boy's teacher asked about him that afternoon. The school's director ran out to the minivan, found Logan and rushed the child across the street to a fire station. Logan was later pronounced dead.

Butler was being held on $15,150 bail. Jail records didn't list an attorney.


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Three indicted in shooting death of Louisiana police officer http://www.wbrz.com/news/three-indicted-in-shooting-death-of-louisiana-police-officer/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/three-indicted-in-shooting-death-of-louisiana-police-officer/ News Thu, 21 Mar 2019 4:57:08 AM Associated Press Three indicted in shooting death of Louisiana police officer

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) - A Louisiana grand jury has indicted three men in the shooting death of a Shreveport police officer.

KTBS-TV reports a Caddo Parish grand jury Wednesday indicted 26-year-old Treveon Anderson, 21-year-old Lawrence Pierre II and 38-year-old Glenn Frierson for second-degree murder in the Jan. 9 shooting death of Officer Chateri Payne. She was killed after she stepped out of her home and headed to work.

Additionally, the men are charged with conspiracy to commit second-degree murder. All are being held on bonds of $1 million each.

Police say Anderson, who was Payne's boyfriend, was the triggerman. Authorities say Pierre, Anderson's cousin, witnessed the shooting and implicated Anderson in the shooting. He allegedly admitted hiding the murder weapon, a .40-caliber handgun.

Anderson and Payne lived together and had a 2-year-old daughter.


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LSU basketball prepares for NCAA opener http://www.wbrz.com/news/lsu-basketball-prepares-for-ncaa-opener/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/lsu-basketball-prepares-for-ncaa-opener/ News Wed, 20 Mar 2019 11:38:20 PM Michael Cauble LSU basketball prepares for NCAA opener

JACKSONVILLE, FL - The LSU Tiger basketball team will tip off their NCAA Tournament run on Thursday morning with a 1st Round game against Yale.  It's LSU's first time back in the Big Dance in four years and many are not giving them a chance to advance given the recent controversy surrounding their suspended coach Will Wade and their early exit at the SEC Tournament.

On Wednesday prior to tipping off the Tigers met with the media in Jacksonville and here is a transcript of their questions and answers. 


Q. Tre, how far did you grow up from Yale in New Haven? And did you ever as a kid maybe think about playing there?
TREMONT WATERS: Yeah, I grew up about -- like if I had a strong enough arm, I could probably throw a rock to Yale's basketball facilities.

Growing up playing basketball, I didn't necessarily think about playing them in the tournament, but it's a great feeling to be able to make it this far and be able to play against someone who's from back home.

Q. I've heard you played some pickup games against some of those guys when you were in high school. Do you remember any of them?
TREMONT WATERS: I used to play on the same AAU team as Azar Swain and Jordan Bruner. He was a guy that was on his way there like to start his school process, but he had sat out one year, so we had put up a couple shots together. Nothing crazy, but yeah.

Q. This team, their starting five has four players that average double-digit scoring. They're a high-flying scoring offense as you guys are. How do you guys plan to keep up, or is the mindset kind of the same, you're going to try to stay the same and score, as well?
SKYLAR MAYS: Yeah, it's going to be a big challenge for us. You know, when you see that balance on the scoring end, that means they really pass the ball well, so everybody is a weapon. We're just going to try to stick to our defensive principles and try to make shots hard for them.

TREMONT WATERS: Yeah, obviously like when you come into this type of environment, you've got to play against guys who either push the ball, slow it down. It's just a bunch of type of different offensive schemes and defensive schemes. We can't shy away from what we've been doing as a program, we've just got to continue to do what our jobs are and just keep doing what we do.

Q. Miye Oni, obviously a scorer, the leader of this team. What have you seen from him on film and what makes him so difficult to guard?
SKYLAR MAYS: He's a great player. He's been an integral part of a team that's made it to the NCAA Tournament, so you can tell the talent that he brings, and he's unbelievable in transition. So we're going to try to keep him out of that, and again, just try to make shots hard for him.

Q. What have you guys learned from the SEC Tournament? Obviously that loss against Florida. What have you guys done over the last week to try and pre-prepare and refocus, especially know that Will Wade is not going to be here?
TREMONT WATERS: All season we've been saying, we are a family, we are going to grow together. Keep pushing through everything, all that adversity that's been thrown at us. But nothing has changed since the Florida game. It was a game that we lost. We didn't execute down the stretch, and we know that we have to come together as a family even more now because we don't have our head coach.

Coach Benford is our new head coach and everyone respects that. We totally loved the change of Coach Benford being there, Coach GH, Coach Armstrong. But like we say, we've just got to come together, just be one and not let anything break us apart.

Q. Not having your head coach, has it bonded you guys as a closer unit? What has it done to bring you guys closer as a basketball team?
SKYLAR MAYS: Yeah, you know, the ideal family is when one person is down, the other person has to pick them up. The huge part of our team and Coach Wade, with him being out, we knew that we'd have to come together even more, and we probably didn't show it as much in the Florida game, but looking at that film and learning from that loss, we understand that's going to be a big part of us being able to move further down in this tournament and getting past Yale.

Q. Now that y'all have worked with Coach Tony and Heiar and Armstrong as that collective co-coaches unit for a couple of weeks now, how are you getting used to that in terms of only having it for one day for the first game?
TREMONT WATERS: Well, they were a part of our coaching staff before, they were just an extension of Coach Wade, but now that Coach Benford is our actual head coach now, everyone is looking towards him, and he's putting a lot of -- not pressure, but he's putting a lot of trust into the players now and just holding each other accountable more because when Coach Wade was the coach, he had more say so. But now that we know we don't have him, everyone has been coming together. We've been in the gym shooting a lot more. Like we've been doing a lot of things together without the coaching staff pretty much forcing us to do it, like throughout practice and stuff.

I would just say that they're giving us a lot more freedom to see what we're going to do, and I would say we've stepped up to the challenge. We know that games aren't going to be easy. We've just got to go out, fight together and be brothers.

Q. Kind of following that up, with all the off-the-court stuff, how much do you guys think about that other than when you're in press conference here? During the day between practices, between games, is it on your mind, and does it anger you what people say about the program and about your coach?
SKYLAR MAYS: I think there's been a lot of outside stuff throughout the year and we've done a great job of keeping that stuff outside. You know, once we step on the court, and I think our record shows that. We should be able to continue to do that, and me and Tremont as leaders, we trust all these guys, and we've developed a great bond over the year, and we expect that bond to keep us together on the court.

Q. Obviously this is a different team than Florida, Florida more of a slow-it-down type of offense, and this one more of a high-speed offense. Coach Benford talked about how paint touches would be more important in this game. Without giving away the game plan, what do you think is an important to do in a game like this where it could be a shootout down the stretch?
TREMONT WATERS: I would say we have to get back in transition because Oni, he's a beast in transition. He likes to push the ball, get out, and their point guard, No. 3, he pushes the ball a lot, and as long as we're able to stop those two guys and pretty much play everyone else inside, then I feel like we have a pretty good chance to win the game.

Q. Skylar, I don't know if you saw, but ESPN rated all the coaches by their playing ability, and Coach Benford rated pretty high. Has he ever told you about what a great player he was, and does he still have any game?
SKYLAR MAYS: Yeah, he brings up how back in the day he got drafted by the Celtics, I believe, and said he was kicking butt back in the '80s. But he doesn't dwell on it too much. It was a long time ago.

Q. I don't know if you got asked this earlier, but being from New Haven, what do you know about Yale? Did you get recruited by Yale? Did you consider them? Some of the guys said you might play pick-up games.
TREMONT WATERS: Yeah, like I said before, if I had a strong enough arm, I could probably throw a rock to Yale's basketball facilities. That's where I started playing basketball. My dad got a membership to Payne Whitney gym, and it was like the local -- not local but the facility where everyone could go in, if you had a membership. So that's where I started. Actually one of my basketball videos, like my training videos is actually in their gym, and that's when I wasn't being recruited by them, so it wasn't a violation or anything.

Yeah, I just grew up playing there. Now that Azar Swain goes there, I actually grew up playing basketball with him for the CT Elite Basketball Club, and just knowing that I'm from New Haven and that this team is from New Haven, it's an honor to be able to play them in the first game of the March Madness NCAA Tournament.

THE MODERATOR: Coach, a few thoughts on the last weeks and how it's gone for your basketball team.

TONY BENFORD: Yeah, first of all, our guys have been great. They've been working extremely hard. We've had some great practices the last few days, really focused, especially after the SEC Tournament. After the loss to Florida, we gave the guys a couple of days off. Came back, had two really, really, I think, spirited practices. The guys are focused, looking forward to the opportunity to play here in the NCAA Tournament against a very quality Yale team, and we'll be prepared to play tomorrow.

Q. Naz Reid is a local guy for us. What's his development been like on and off the court?
TONY BENFORD: Great. I'll tell you what, I was just talking to another media person about Naz. Naz has lost 30 points since he joined us in June, and he's worked extremely hard. Out strength coach has done a great job with him. We all know about his skill set, but he's been very coachable, he's got a high IQ, he absorbs the scouting reports and our film sessions. He's really good, and I'll tell you what, with our big guys he's like a coach on the floor with our big guys. He's been good defensively. That's one area I think he's really improved is defensively. He's able to guard ball screens. You'll see Naz, we'll match him up sometimes on the wings. He's guarding 6'4", 6'5" wings.

I've been really pleased. He should be a lottery pick, in my opinion. I don't see how guys pass on a guy with that size and that skill set.

Q. Tony, given the unforeseen circumstances of the season, being thrown in so late, what does it mean having been a head coach so recently? Do you think it would be -- has it made the adjustment easier for you? And if you hadn't been, would it have been more difficult?
TONY BENFORD: That's a good question. First of all, we have a quality group. What I mean, a group of character kids, and they've really bought in. They've really taken ownership of their team. They've had to unfortunately go through a lot of adversity this year, losing one of their teammates in Wayde Sims, and that really made these guys a tighter knit group, brought them closer together, more trust and respect for one another, and it made easier for us to coach them. They dedicated the season to Wayde Sims. That's the reason we were able to win in overtime. Had six overtime games in the league and we were 5-1 in those games because of the closeness of this group.

For me to step in, Coach Wade really delegates a lot to our coaching staff. We have a great staff - Greg Heiar, who is ready to be a head coach. He was at Wichita State. He does a tremendous job. Then Bill Armstrong, who was in the SEC for 13 years. That's made it easier, having really good -- I say we're co-coaches but really other good coaches on the staff, and that's helped our transition and our relationship with our players.

Q. Following that up, how difficult has it been for you to not only try to coach a basketball team obviously but keep players focused on basketball as opposed to everything swirling around the program?
TONY BENFORD: Well, first of all, we talk about narrow focus, narrowing our focus, controlling -- we can't control the outside noise and what's going on. All we can control is our locker room and our huddle, and the players, they've taken ownership of the locker room. They're holding everyone accountable, their teammates accountable, too. So that's huge when you can narrow your focus. Kind of have to have tunnel vision and put blinders on. But they're aware of what's going on on the outside, but inside when we walk in those doors, hey, it's about preparing for -- for instance, Yale. We've got to prepare today, guys. We can't control what's going on on the outside.

Q. What are your thoughts about the program just being shown in such a negative light? And do you have any sense for what players think about it, but also what do you think about it?
TONY BENFORD: Well, I mean, in college athletics, things happen. That's just part of life, in any walk of life, any profession, things happen. So we can't worry about that right now. I'm just focused on these kids and making sure that we're prepared for Yale, and making sure that we're going to represent LSU the best way we can at this moment.

Q. I asked one of the players this: You saw ESPN ranked the coaches by their playing ability, and you ranked pretty high. You were not Chris Mullin, but one of the pretty good coaches in the tournament. I was just wondering if you had seen that, and what do you take from your playing days to help you relate to players and what they're going through and what they're thinking, that sort of thing?
TONY BENFORD: Yeah, that was about 100 pounds ago with that. But anyway, I saw that. One of my subs sent that to me.

But anyway, I had guys -- I played my senior year -- well, I played a couple years in the NCAA Tournament. I played at Texas Tech, and we lost a teammate, and I related this to my guys. We lost a teammate when I was in college while we were playing at the rec center on the floor, had a heart attack and died. That brought back -- I still stay in contact with those guys. That brought us closer together, that group that I played with. That's what I see with these guys. I shared my experience with these guys, and you can see like these guys have went through the adversity, obviously the adverse situation with losing Wayde that we've gone through there, a lot of people talk about being their brothers' keepers and all that stuff. These guys are living it. They are truly their brothers' keepers.

So we've got to continue to stay focused and continue to stay together.

Q. Tony, your history with the tournament, you know there's upsets happen in these early-round games. You're playing an early game tomorrow. What's your message to your team? How do you keep your team loose and not get tight as a top seed?
TONY BENFORD: Well, Yale is, first of all, they're well-coached. Coach Jones is a tremendous coach. He does a great job, and those guys are -- they have more experience. We have one guy that's been in the tournament. That's Kavell Bigby-Williams. They have five that have played in it just recently two years ago, and beat Baylor. They played Duke really, really close that second game I remember.

But you look at their numbers, they scare you. Offensively they're off the chart. They really push the basketball. But also defensively they're pretty sound. I think they're holding teams to 41 percent field goal percentage on defense. So they're a quality team.

But all we can control is what we do. We're not going to change a whole lot. That's one thing, I think, is we've kind of kept our routine the same. We've got to do a good job of pushing the tempo. They want to push the tempo. But we've got to do a good job, make sure we get back in transition defense and get to their shooters, and they've got some guys that can make some plays, obviously Oni and Copeland and Reynolds all can make plays.

So we've got to do a solid job defensively. We've got to be solid on our ball screen coverage, on the defensive end, and then we've got to rebound the ball, and then we've got to get on the glass. We're one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country, so when a shot goes up, we've got to make sure we get on the glass, too, for the next possession.

Q. As a coach, you've obviously been thrown into a very unusual situation. How do you as a coach impart to 19, 20, 21-year-old kids trying to navigate this with all the outside noise that comes in with a situation like this? How have you handled that with them?
TONY BENFORD: Well, earlier I was just mentioning to a couple of the members in the chairs that we try to talk about today. We can't control what happened yesterday. But we're mindful of the fact that there's a lot of noise out there. You know that, but what we try to do is focus in on Yale right now. That's what we've done, preparing for Yale, and we've talked about that. Unfortunately guys have great leadership in Skylar Mays, Tremont Waters. You guys just visited with those guys. Kavell Bigby has been a great leader for us. So we just really try to have tunnel vision and just concentrate on the task at hand, and that's to play a really good Yale team.

Q. Has it become maybe a little bit easier now as time goes on, maybe I'm sure the first few days it happened, there might have been a little more of a chaotic feel to it, but has it become easier has time has moved on?
TONY BENFORD: Well, I don't know about easier, but it's helped, and I think we're settled into a routine I guess is the right answer to that. I think our guys -- we haven't changed our routine at all as far as our preparation and as far as the amount of time we spend with our guys and stuff. I don't think it's gotten easier, but the guys I think now are accustomed that Coach is not around right now. They're hearing my voice, Coach Heiar's voice and Coach Armstrong, and they understand that.

And then again, I just get back to the ownership. I think every championship team that I've been a part of, associated with, it's always about the players. Players have taken ownership of their teams, and that's the reason we were able to win the SEC championship is because of our players.


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Tigers walk-off Nicholls for thrilling win at the Box http://www.wbrz.com/news/tigers-walk-off-nicholls-for-thrilling-win-at-the-box/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/tigers-walk-off-nicholls-for-thrilling-win-at-the-box/ News Wed, 20 Mar 2019 11:30:20 PM Tigers walk-off Nicholls for thrilling win at the Box

BATON ROUGE, La. - Sophomore left fielder Daniel Cabrera slapped an RBI double off of the right field wall to lift the No. 7 LSU baseball team to a 5-4 win against Nicholls in walk-off fashion Wednesday night in Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field. 

Right fielder Antoine Duplantis was walked to start the bottom of the 10th. He advanced to second on a wild pitch before Cabrera doubled to right field to bring Duplantis home and seal the win for the Tigers.

“It was a great victory for the Tigers,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “Nicholls played so well, and (Nicholls coach) Seth Thibodeaux did an outstanding job in managing his team. I thought we were ready to play, but we kind of struggled through the first three innings of the game. Fortunately, we were able to hang in there and come through with clutch hits at the end of the game.”

Nicholls took a 4-3 lead in the ninth on a home run by Tarver.

Pinch hitter Drew Bianco drew a one-out walk in the bottom of the ninth, and stole second to set up a scoring opportunity for the Tigers. Chris Reid then pinch hit for Brandt Broussard, and dropped a double into left-center to score Bianco and tie the game back up, 4-4. 

“What can you say about Chris Reid?” Mainieri asked. “We wanted to give him the night off because he has a sore forearm, but we needed him with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning and he ropes a double to tie up the game.”

A RBI double from Cabrera scored Duplantis and gave LSU the 5-4 victory.

“Daniel hit a rocket, and Antoine didn’t have a great read on it,” Mainieri explained. “Fortunately, the ball ricocheted off the wall really hard, and Antoine was able to score.”

The Tigers used six pitchers out of the bullpen . Sophomore Ma’Khail Hilliard came in to start the third and tossed two innings. He notched two strikeouts and did not allow any hits or runs. Freshman Chase Costello took over on the mound in fifth inning and went two innings, allowed one run on two hits with three strikeouts.

With the win, LSU improves to 16-5 on the season, and Nicholls drops to 11-11.

LSU will return to action Friday at 6 p.m. CT for the first game of a three-game series at Georgia.


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Atchafalaya backwater flooding to linger for weeks http://www.wbrz.com/news/atchafalaya-backwater-flooding-to-linger-for-weeks/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/atchafalaya-backwater-flooding-to-linger-for-weeks/ News Wed, 20 Mar 2019 7:33:26 PM Mark Armstrong Atchafalaya backwater flooding to linger for weeks

PIERRE PART - Atchafalaya Basin residents already dealing with high water will see little change for several weeks. The backwater flooding is expected to last for another 45 days said Assumption Parish Homeland Security Director John Boudreaux.

"Unfortunately not knowing what the weather brings in the next 45 days, if we do have any significant rainfall, it would compound what's already here," said Boudreaux.

Many residents in Peirre Part have erected sand bag barriers in front of their homes along flooded streets to protect from the wake created by passing vehicles.

Backwater flooding is a problem most years in the basin according to Boudreaux as thirty-percent of the Mississippi River diverts into the Atchafalaya River. In a week, the state will announce funding for a flood control project near Morgan City said Boudreaux aimed at reducing the high water.

In 2011 a temporary dam was built on Bayou Chene that allowed the basin to better drain after the Morganza Spillway was opened. At the time the submergible barge used in the project was rented but now there's plans for the St. Mary Levee District to have its own.

The Bayou Chene flood project is expected to be ready by 2022 said Boudreaux.


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Fire at Texas storage facility briefly flares up http://www.wbrz.com/news/fire-at-texas-storage-facility-briefly-flares-up/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/fire-at-texas-storage-facility-briefly-flares-up/ News Wed, 20 Mar 2019 7:15:09 PM Associated Press Fire at Texas storage facility briefly flares up
HOUSTON (AP) - Officials say a fire that was extinguished after burning for days at a Houston-area petrochemicals storage facility briefly flared up.
  
The blaze in Deer Park had been extinguished at 3 a.m. Wednesday. But the city of Deer Park said in a tweet in the late afternoon that there was a small flare-up of the blaze.
  
The flare-up, which sent flames and smoke into the air, was contained within 30 seconds by firefighters.
  
Robert Hemminger, Deer Park's emergency services director, says flare-ups are expected with fires of this scale.
  
Intercontinental Terminals Company officials didn't immediately return calls or emails seeking comment.
  
An ITC spokeswoman said earlier Wednesday that crews would continue spraying foam and water on tanks that caught fire to cool them down and prevent the blaze from reigniting.

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