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Steve Geller

"WWL First News" Sports Anchor
Weekdays 5am-10am

"Sports Talk" Producer
Weekdays 4pm-8pm

Twitter: @stevegellerWWL
Email: steve@wwl.com

Pels forward Anthony Davis named to All-NBA first team

The NBA has announced that Pelicans forward Anthony Davis has been named to this year's All-NBA First Team for the first time in his career.

AD led the league in Player Impact Estimate (PIE), which measures a player's overall statistical contribution against the total statistics in games he plays. He ranked first in the league in blocks (2.94 bpg), fourth in scoring (24.4 ppg), seventh in field goal percentage (53.5) and eighth in rebounding (10.2 rpg). Davis finished with a league-leading Player Efficiency Rating of 30.8, which is the 11th highest in the history of the NBA. The Brow was also named an All-Star starter for the first time in his career, and lead the Pels to the playoffs for the first time since 2011.

He becomes the fourth player in franchise history to be named to an All-NBA team. This list includes Jamal Mashburn (Third Team 2002-03), Baron Davis (Third Team 2003-04) and Chris Paul (First Team 2007-08; Second Team 2008-09; Third Team 2010-11).

Joining AD on the first team is forward LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers, guards Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors and James Harden of the Houston Rockets, and Center Marc Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies.
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Steve: LSU begins quest for 3rd straight SEC tournament title

Who says LSU is a football school? Fighting Tiger baseball enters this week's SEC Tournament as the two-time defending tourney champs, and have won the event an outstanding five times in the past seven seasons. Will the Purple and Gold make it a three-peat in Hoover this year?

The first obstacle for the Bayou Bengals is a Tiger of another kind. Auburn blanked Kentucky 6-3 to advance. The War Eagles pitching staff is nasty, as they complied a total of 7 shutouts this season, and 4 of those were versus SEC opponents in 2015. They don't swing the bat as well as LSU though, as they've totaled 247 RBI, which was 11th in the conference and are last in home runs with 17.

When LSU hosted Auburn during the regular season back in April, the Purple and Gold won 2 of 3 contests. Game 1 was a 3-2 LSU victory, Auburn took game 2 by the score of 6-1, and then LSU won the series with a 6-2 triumph in game 3.

LSU will send lefty Jared Poche to the mound who looks to recover after a shaky outing last time out in South Carolina. He started out alright, giving up 2 runs through 5 innings, but in the 6th the sophomore fell apart and allowed 4 runs in the frame.

Auburn would like to counter with ace Keegan Thompson, but it's still unclear if he will be able to go. Thompson is dealing with an elbow injury which limited him to just 2 innings of work this past Saturday. Auburn's lone victory aginst LSU this year came when Thompson tossed a complete game, giving up one earned run on six hits, one walk and three strikeouts.

It is likely LSU will see Rocky McCord instead who had a 3.65 ERA and a record of 5-4 during the regular season. He struck out a total 62 batters while walking 39. First pitch is set for 4:30pm CT, while pregame coverage on WWL 870AM starts at 4pm. GEAUX TIGERS ! LSU Record:
46-9 overall, 21-8 SEC

Team Statistics
Batting average .322
Earned run average 2.91
Fielding percentage .977

Top Hitters
1B Chris Chinea .374 BA, 11 HR, 53 RBI
3B Conner Hale .353 BA, 4 HR, 50 RBI
SS Alex Bregman .329 BA, 9 HR, 44 RBI

Top Pitchers
Alex Lange 10-0 2.11 ERA
Jared Poche 7-1 3.18 ERA
Jesse Stallings 1-1 12 saves, 1.84 ERA

Auburn Record:
34-22 overall, 13-17 SEC

Team Statistics
Batting average .276
Earned run average 3.34
Fielding percentage .973

Top Hitters
OF Anfernee Grier .344 BA, 1 HR, 20 RBI
1B Daniel Robert .289 BA, 3 HR, 35 RBI
SS Cody Nurph .265 BA, 3 HR, 31 RBI

Top Pitchers
Cole Lipscomb 7-2, 2.38 ERA
Keegan Thompson 7-3, 3.21 ERA
Justin Camp 2-1, 8 saves, 2.41 ERA
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Steve: Pelicans given permission to talk to Warriors' Alvin Gentry

ESPN NBA analyst Marc Stein is reporting that sources at the worldwide leader have learned that the Pelicans have received permission from the Golden State Warriors to talk to assistant coach Alvin Gentry for the head coaching job in New Orleans.

Gentry is a hot commodity right now - he is being credited, along with Steve Kerr, as the offensive genius who helped the Warriors achieve 67 wins this season.

Stein's report goes on to say it is unclear as to when the Pelicans will interview Gentry. Golden State hosts the Houston Rockets tomorrow for game 1of the Western Conference Finals.

Still also believed to be in the mix for the Pels head coaching gig is Tom Thibodeau of the Bulls. He is under contract though for the next 2 years and the Bulls will likely be looking for some draft picks as compensation to aquire Thibs even though it is clear they do not want him around.
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Steve: Saints feel they've found new gunslinger in Grayson

There was a large contingent of the Who Dat Nation who believed it was time for the Saints to draft a quarterback this year as Drew Brees is now 36 years old and only has 2 years left on his current contract. To those fans delight, the team did just that selecting Colorado State's Garrett Grayson in the 3rd round.

What are the qualities head coach Sean Payton is looking for in a quarterback? "Accuracy is up there," he replied. "I mean, there are traits physically that we are looking for; he's 6ft 2.5. There is a triangle of things you're looking at. Position specific…is he a guy that competes? Is he tough? How is he when the team is behind? How does he handle pressure? Can he run or is he someone who is going to be in the pocket and is a little bit of a sack liability? You grade all these elements, but certainly accuracy is one of the key things you would look at."

And of these things, what grabbed Payton about Grayson? "There were the games that he played in, he had a good volume of work - throughout the process we saw a number of things that we valued. He's got the stature, he's got the height, and he's got the size. We'll see how he goes." Grayson is getting to lead the offense right now as Saints rookie camp is underway, but understand 100% that this is still Brees' team. "I have no problem with sitting and learning from a guy like Drew Brees," said Grayson. "I look at Aaron Rodgers and the success that he's had after sitting behind Brett Favre and I think that helped him out a ton. I have no problem taking that route. And then hopefully I'll come in behind Drew Brees and we won't miss a beat."

He finished his college career with a 62% completion rate, 64 TDs, 27 INTs and 9190 yards passing. His senior year was stellar, as he finished with a 32:7 TD to INT ratio. His confidence in the pocket has been lauded and without the pressure on him to start right away, he will get the much needed time to develop. So many young QBs are thrown to the wolves and when they fail are labeled as busts instead of being given a chance to grow. While there are still no guarantees the sit and learn method will work for Grayson, he is set up for success. There is a top notch mentor in a future hall of fame QB coupled with a head coach who loves to throw it and is heralded for being an offensive genius.
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Steve: Corners could be Saints' biggest impact rookies

One of the more glaring problems of the Saints 31st ranked defense last year resided at cornerback. Sure, the lack of a pass rush didn't help that unit out one bit, but nobody played nearly well enough to be worthy of lining up opposite Keenan Lewis.

Champ Bailey was supposed to be that guy, but Father Time won that fight. Patrick Robinson and Corey White both had a chance to step up and claim that #2 CB spot, but squandered the opportunity. As for 2nd round draft pick Stanley Jean-Baptiste… well, he couldn't even earn a spot on the special teams unit on gamedays and was inactive more times than not. The verdict still isn't in for SJB, but the Saints sure aren't putting all their eggs in his basket.

They signed veteran free agent Brandon Browner in free agency, giving Lewis a legitimate partner at CB for the first time since Jabari Greer donned the Black & Gold. Then they proceeded to add former 1st round draft pick Kyle Wilson, who never really worked out for the NY Jets. Those two joined a roster that still had guys that contributed last year in Brian Dixon and Terrance Frederick.

On draft day the team used two of its nine selections to even further address the position. If you couldn't tell by now, corner is pretty important.

The Saints picked Florida State's PJ Williams in round three and then Damian Swann out of Georgia in fifth. Both come from big time programs, and are gifted with big time potential in the NFL.

PJ WILLIAMS - 6 ft. 190 pounds

40-yard dash: 4.45 seconds
Vertical jump: 41 inches
Broad jump: 11 feet, 3 inches

Williams made 24 starts across three seasons, breaking up 18 passes with four interceptions. Despite allowing five touchdown passes in 2014, he was a first-team All-ACC pick, and was also MVP of the BCS title game in 2013. He has good size with plenty of athleticism and experience in man coverage. He should get a year or two to develop behind Keenan Lewis and Brandon Browner, but will still see plenty of action this season in nickel and dime sets.

Damian Swann – 6 ft. 189 pounds

40-yard dash: 4.50
Vertical jump: 33 inches
Broad jump: 9 feet, 10 inches

Swann was a playmaker in Georgia's secondary, piling up 10 career tackles for loss, four sacks, six forced fumbles, and eight INTs as a 40-game starter. He earned second-team All SEC as a senior. Swann is competitive and loves to play physical. His best position may be free safety or slot corner.
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Demps: Firing Monty was in the Pelicans' best interest

New Orleans Pelicans General Manager Dell Demps addressed the media about the firing of head coach Monty Williams and hammered home the point that this was a decision made by the organization, not one person. He also said that it was in the best interests of the team.

Williams was hired in 2010 and New Orleans was his first go at being a head coach. He finishes his career here with a regular season record of 173-221. In the two years Williams' teams made the playoffs they were just 2-8. This year's squad was swept by the Golden State Warriors.

The teams' worth ethic and heart was definitely never a question under Williams, but their ability to close out opponents was. A troubling theme throughout Monty's tenure was the ballclub coughing up big leads after halftime. The one we all remember most is of course game 3 of the playoffs this year at home against Golden State. The Pels were up 20 points in the 4th quarter but still somehow managed to find a way to lose the game.

There was also an issue of the team playing down to opponents. Despite the Pelicans managing a 29-23 in the tough Western Conference, they were just 16-14 against the lesser competition in the East. Losses on the road to the Knicks, 76ers and Celtics in January were low points of the season.

Things really got ugly when the Smoothie King Center crowd began booing Williams this year. He even told his family to stay home and not attend games because he didn't want them to have to hear it.

My question is how does All-Star Anthony Davis feel about the situation? Demps said that he talked to AD after the decision to fire Monty was made but he was not consulted as part of the decision.

This scares me a bit because of how Chris Paul soured on being here after the franchise first got rid of good friend Tyson Chandler, and then fired Coach Byron Scott without talking to him.

I would think the next head coach of the Pelicans is someone that Davis has had some interaction with. Kentucky's John Calipari is the longest of long shots, but Tom Thibodeau in Chicago is a legitimate contender.

Thibs has been an assistant on the USA men's basketball team which AD has been a part of the last 2 years.
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Steve: How might the Saints spend all nine Draft picks?

Sorry NBA and NHL playoffs, you stand no chance against the event that is the NFL Draft. It’s a time every year where teams and their fan bases renew hope that the franchise is selecting players that will help push them over the top of the heap and ultimately lead to a championship.

After a 7-9 finish last season and nagging salary cap issues, the importance of this year’s draft has been heightened for Saints, if that’s possible. They come into the process holding 9 picks (although I don’t expect them to keep them all) and will be looking to fill some glaring needs.

How things will shake out is a crap shoot. Not even the teams know, but let’s imagine the Saints do in fact hold onto all 9 of their picks. Here is my 7-round mock draft prediction - sure to be wrong! 

1st round #13 - Washington DT Danny Shelton

Love this kid’s ability, work ethic and character. The 6-foot-2, 339-pounder would give the Black & Gold a run stuffer which in turn should help the team’s pass rush or 2nd and 3rd down.

#31 - UCF WR Breshad Perryman

Perryman hasn’t gotten the type of attention WRs Amari Cooper, Kevin White or Devante Parker BUT has the size, speed and strength to be an elite pass-catcher in the NFL. He gives Drew Brees another arrow in his quiver while solidifying the Saints receiving corps for the future alongside last year’s 1st rounder Brandin Cooks.

2nd round #12 - Mississippi State ILB Benardrick McKinney

He is a linebacker who sees the field like a QB because he played under center in high school. Love the blend of his size (6-ft-4, 246 lbs.), explosiveness and overall ability showcased while playing in the mighty SEC.

3rd round #11 - Florida State OG Tre Jackson

This 6-ft-3, 330 pounder has mass and strength, but is also surprisingly quick for his size coming off the ball. Good luck to any defender trying to move this guy.

#14  - Miami (Ohio) CB Quinten Rollins

I REALLY like this kid who is not only physical but has the size and speed to cover the top WRs in the NFL. He is very raw though, like Stanley Jean-Baptiste, and will need time to get adjusted to playing in the pros. I know I just scared the entire Who Dat Nation away from this kid after that comparison.

5th round #12 - Virginia OLB Max Valles

Another raw talent, as he is the youngest player in this year’s draft at 20 years old. Valles will need time to develop but should find a role as a situational pass rusher and on special teams. In 2-3 years though, he could easily become an every down player.

#18 - Alabama OT Austin Shepherd

Shepherd is big, tough and very coachable. He could play right tackle or guard. While some scouts think he will have a career as a back-up in the NFL, I feel his thirst to improve could raise his game to starter status.

6th round #11 - South Carolina Tight End Rory Anderson

Has the size and speed teams salivate over for the TE position, but tore his triceps muscle in both arms in back to back years. Not only a receiving threat, but is also a solid blocker. Worth a late round selection in my opinion since there is high upside.

7th round #13 - Georgia Inside Linebacker Amarlo Herrera

Ok, so I just realized my last 3 selections are SEC players. Guess I have more of an affinity for these kids since I watch them more regularly. Herrera led Georgia in tackles as a senior with 115 after posting 112 stops as a junior. He also had 15 tackles for loss and two picks over those two years. I could see him as a situation run stopper and contributing on special teams right away.
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Steve: Pelicans will have a tough time against Warriors' firepower

The New Orleans Pelicans had 2 goals to start the season and accomplished both.  Finish with a winning record (45-37) and earn a spot in the postseason. Though some want to criticize what GM Dell Demps and Coach Monty Williams have done with the franchise; to me you can’t argue with success. 

The team not only went underwent a name change, but a complete roster make-over the last few years.  In every season, they have shown progression. What’s the old saying folks…”Rome was not built in a day.”

Now in just his 3rd season in the NBA, All-Star Anthony Davis has led the flock to the playoffs where they must take on the best team in the league in the 1st round.  

Golden State finished the regular season with a record of 67-15 and is the top overall seed in the Association.  They have the best guard tandem on the planet with Stephen Curry and Clay Thomson; who are known as the “Splash Brothers” for their ability to knock down a shot from just about anywhere on the court.

Curry is averaging 24 points per game behind 49% shooting from the field and 44% percent from beyond the arc. When he isn’t making buckets, Curry is finding open teammates, averaging 8 assists per game. 

Many of those dimes find Thompson, who averages 22 points per contest on 44% shooting from 3-point range. Besides that lethal duo you cannot forget Draymond Green, Marreese Speights and Harrison Barnes who also average double figures for the Warriors.

The Pelicans were just 1-3 against G.S. this year, but that one victory was towards the tail end of the season and could give the team some added confidence heading into the series.

Las Vegas sure doesn’t think so though.  They currently give the Warriors a 97% chance to take the series from the Pels.  For game 1, Golden State is an 11.5 point favorite which should be expected since they lost only 2 games in Oracle Arena all year.

There always seems to be one huge upset in the first round of the NBA playoffs, but I don’t believe New Orleans can take 4 games from the Warriors, who lead the league in scoring, field-goal percentage and 3-point percentage.  It’s just way too much firepower for the Pelicans to overcome.

Series prediction: Warriors in 5

Game 1 - Sat. April 18, New Orleans at Golden State, 2:30 p.m. 
Game 2 - Mon. April 20, New Orleans at Golden State, 9:30 p.m. 
Game 3 - Thu. April 23, Golden State at New Orleans, 8:30 p.m. 
Game 4 - Sat. April 25, Golden State at New Orleans, 7 p.m. 
Game 5 * - Tue. April 28, New Orleans at Golden State, TBD 
Game 6 * - Fri. May 1, Golden State at New Orleans, TBD 
Game 7 * - Sun. May 3, New Orleans at Golden State, TBD

Every game can be heard on the flagship of the Pelicans, 105.3 WWL FM 

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Steve: Just one game decides Pelicans' playoff fate

After 81 of the 82 games in the regular season for the Pelicans, it all comes down to the finale to determine whether or not this franchise will be playing playoffs hoops. New Orleans and Oklahoma City own identical 44-37 records and both teams are hoping they can seal the deal Wednesday night to earn the 8th seed in the wild Western Conference.

The good news is that the Pelicans own the tie breaker over the Thunder, so if the 2 teams remain tied; it will be the Pels who advance thanks to taking 3 of 4 match-ups against OKC this season.

On the other hand, the bad news is who each squad will be facing. New Orleans must tackle the defining champion San Antonio Spurs, who are the hottest ballclub in the NBA right now having won 11 straight. The Thunder, well, they get to go to Minnesota and face the absolute worst team in the association that has dropped their last 11.

In other words, don’t bet on the Timberwolves doing New Orleans any favors, despite the contest being played in Minny.

While the task seems - and kind of is monumentous for the Pelicans - it is still very possible.

For starters, the Spurs have to come to the Smoothie King Center. The birds have defended the nest well this season, as they own a home record of 27-13 and have won their last 4 there.

New Orleans has also played solid against San Antonio. The Pelicans have taken 2 of the last 3 match-ups and actually should have won all 3. No, I’m serious! With the game in hand on New Year’s Eve in San Antonio, one of the freakiest plays I’ve ever seen in an NBA game occurred sending the game to overtime, where the Pelicans ultimately lost. Talk about a crappy way to ring in 2015.

But, both teams are a lot different now. Players are healthy, rosters have new faces and one squad is accustomed to playing in big games this time of year. Like clockwork, folks were ready to leave the Spurs for dead midway through the year but they now ascended to be one of the cream of the crop in the league. There is no chance the Spurs will be resting guys, since they, too, have a lot to play for.

San Antonio will be the #2 seed in the West with a victory, or could fall all the way to 6th with a loss. The Spurs, Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets are all tied with records of 55-26 and the Memphis Grizzlies are also lurking at 54-27.

On the season, the Spurs are averaging 103 points on 47 percent shooting and are allowing 979 points on 44 percent shooting. Kawhi Leonard is averaging 16.5 points and 7 rebounds while Tim Duncan is averaging 14 points and 9 boards. The always dangerous Tony Parker has 14 points with 5 assists per game. The only person they could be without is Matt Bonner who is questionable with a calf injury.

The Pelicans are averaging 99 points on 45.6 percent shooting and are allowing 98 points on 45.5 percent shooting. Anthony Davis is averaging 24 points and 10 rebounds while Tyreke Evans is at 17 points and 6.5 assists per contest. Point guard Jrue Holiday is back in the mix after missing a good chunk of the year with a stress reaction in his leg. Despite being held out last game, he will be a full go against the Spurs. 

It certainly isn’t going to be easy for the home team, but the Pelicans have been through a lot this season and are battle tested. They have overcome injuries and being an inexperienced ballclub in big situations to get to this point. Now, just one game and one team stand in their way of the prize; making the playoffs. We’ll see if they are ready to seize the moment and become the team we know they can be.

So in the immortal words of Flo-Rida…

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Steve: Pelicans to face deadly Warriors

The birds have flown home after a successful road trip.  The Pelicans won 2 of 3 games out West but come back to their Smoothie King Center nest to now face the best team in the NBA tonight.

Click here to check out the Pels top plays of the week...

MVP candidate Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors come to town with a record of 63-14 and have won 9 of their last 10 games.  In fact, they just got roughed up by the San Antonio Spurs and hopefully don’t take things out on the Pels.

New Orleans sits just a half game out of the 8th and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, but getting the job done in these final 6 games WILL NOT be easy.

The Pelicans have the 3rd hardest remaining schedule in the Association, while the team they are trying to edge to get into postseason, the Oklahoma City Thunder, own the 14th toughest.

More bad news for the Pels is that they have not been able to beat the Warriors the last 10 meetings.  In fact, the last time New Orleans beat Golden State was

ALLLLLLLLL they way back in 2012.  Seriously, that’s 3 years ago, folks!

New Orleans has defended home court well though this season; they are 25-13 in "The Blender."   

Maybe Golden State comes into town and decides to rest their stars, since they already clinched and are assured they will finish the year with the best record out of any team in the NBA.   

But, I wouldn’t bet on it.  Especially after losing their last time on the court, the Warriors will come out to play.

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