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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

Steve: Pelicans introduce new head coach

With change comes excitement about the unknown - and also hope. For the Pelicans, their new head coach brings a fresh new perspective, coming off an NBA Championship victory with the Warriors. Alvin Gentry was an assistant at Golden State this season and helped that squad produce the top scoring offense in the Association. The year before, he was an assistant with the Clippers and guided that offense to the top scoring unit in the league.

Now he joins a Pelicans ballclub that is coming off its 1st playoff berth in 5 years and has one of the best players in the world in Anthony Davis. The Pels gym where the press conference was held just oozed of positive energy. "I'd like to thank Mr. and Mrs. B," said Gentry. "It was so great when I came here visiting with them. This whole organization, this whole franchise is run like a family; so if you're part of it you're part of the family." The family should be a lot of fun to watch this year as Gentry will make this Pelicans team more uptempo and centered around superstar Davis.

While he is known for his offense, Gentry stressed the need to play solid defense. "I think one of the things that I think you'll see us do is that we're going to play a lot faster and give him (AD) an opportunity to be in the open court," Gentry stated. "One of the areas we've got to get better in, obviously, is on the defensive end, and I think we'll see that happen. We're going to be a very good defensive team that happens to be good offensively. And I think in order to win, that's what it has to be." Gentry admitted it was hard to stay focused on his job with the Warriors after being hired as New Orleans new head coach, but knew he had to keep his head in the moment. Soon after winning though his attention shifted immediately to his new nest in New Orleans.

"Like I said to AD," Gentry smiled, "Why can't this be our time? No one's more deserving then this city right here."
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Steve: The "Breaux and Cooks Show" entertains at Saints OTA

The local media has been talking a lot how Saints cornerback Delvin Breaux has looked confident and like he belongs on the field at organized team activities; today, he was even better. The former CFLer broke up a number of passes. There was even a play where he got beat that he still looked good.

Brandin Cooks caught a perfectly thrown ball from Drew Brees despite Breaux blanketing the receiver, but the play of the day came when Drew Brees intended a pass for Josh Morgan only to have Breaux pull off a one handed interception that made every member of the media say "wow!" It was completely effortless and I can't remember the last time I saw anyone of the Saints defense make such a pretty play.

Meanwhile, its pretty safe to say that Brandin Cooks is fully healed from his broken thumb that caused him to miss 6 games last year. Forget about raving over his next level speed, the kid is a human vacuum when it comes to catching passes. He easily had over 150 yards today and he seems to be on a different level then the rest of the WRs out there.

A number of players did not take part on today's workout like Marcus Colston, Cam Jordan and Ryan Griffin. Head coach Sean Payton said all were excused - and he did talk more about Junior Galette's situation. He confirmed that the outside linebacker has a pec injury and is trying to avoid surgery.

Also, Mark Ingram was back on the field after missing the previous two OTAs that the media got to watch. He did not look like he was hurting or moving funny. Payton said last week they were just being cautious with the running back's snaps.

This week concludes OTAs - mandatory mini-camp starts next week and is open to fans, weather permitting.
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Steve: Ingram misses Saints OTA again

For the second straight week, Saints running back Mark Ingram did not participate in the organized team activity practice the media was able to view. Coach Sean Payton would not say anything specific as to why, only stating that they were being cautious with him.

Back in March, Ingram inked a new four-year deal worth $16 million dollars. He busted out last season rushing for 964 yards rushing and nine touchdowns averaging 4.3 yards per carry. The 25-year old has battled some injures in his four year career, playing an entire 16 game season only once in 2012.

We shouldn't read into this too much at the moment. But it will start to become a concern if he continues to miss time when mini-camp kicks off on June 16th.
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Steve: Pelicans fans haven't seen the last of Monty Williams

Pelicans fans will have good reason to boo Monty Williams now. He has joined the Thunder as new head coach Billy Donovan's top assistant. That's right, the man who knows every in & out of this current Pels roster will be aiding Western Conference rival Oklahoma City.

The move by OKC will definitely add even more drama to the four times the two teams meet this coming season, especially the games in the Smoothie King Center. Williams was fired after New Orleans was swept by Golden State in the opening round of the NBA playoffs. In Monty's five years leading the Hornets/Pelicans franchise, he compiled a record of 172-221.

The Thunder had been pursuing Williams since he was let go by New Orleans. If OKC can bounce back after missing the playoffs this year, he could very well be considered for a head coaching next next offseason.

Meanwhile, new Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry's staff is taking form. The team has brought on Darren Eram who was with the Boston Celtics last year. He is widely regarded as one of the top young defensive minds in the NBA. Also, New Orleans native Robert Pack is said to be coming home. He was part of the Thunder's staff the last 2 seasons.
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Steve: Pelicans ink Alvin Gentry to 4 years, $13.75 million

Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports reports that Alvin Gentry's contract with the Pelicans is for 4 years $13.75 million, including a $4 million team option in the final season.  That is a great deal for New Orleans, as names like Tom Thibodeau or Jeff Van Gundy would easily cost the franchise $6-8 million per season. 

“After assessing our team, along with the core values of the Pelicans, we created a list of characteristics and qualities we wanted in our head coach," GM Dell Demps said in a a statement. "We conducted an extensive coaching search that identified Alvin Gentry as the right person to lead our team. Alvin is a well-respected coach that brings many years of experience, a wealth of knowledge, creativity and leadership. Alvin and I have a shared vision and we look forward to working together in achieving sustained success for Pelicans fans and the New Orleans community.”

Team owner Tom Benson also had some things to say about the new hire.  “We are thrilled to have Alvin join our organization,” Benson stated. “He has proven himself as a winner and is in the midst of helping the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. We look forward to having him lead our team.”
Gentry and the Warriors will continue their quest to bring home an NBA Title when the NBA Finals begin June 4th in Oakland against Lebron James and the Cavaliers.  Nothing changes for Gentry immediately. He will remain with Golden State then begin his duties with the Pelicans following the Finals.
“I’m truly honored for the opportunity to lead the Pelicans as their head coach and am anxious to get started,” said Gentry. “However, my responsibilities with the Pelicans will begin immediately after the NBA Finals are completed. Until then, my complete focus for the next two-plus weeks will be with the Warriors and the NBA Finals. We’ve had an incredible season under Steve Kerr’s leadership in the Bay Area, but still have a lot of work to do as we prepare for the Cavaliers and a tough series.”
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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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