Moore on the subject

In 31 years spent covering University of Tennessee sports I've seen some things blown way out of proportion. But I'm not sure I've ever seen anything as overblown as Eddie DeBro's dunk prior to Saturday's Vol-Vanderbilt basketball game.

In 31 years spent covering University of Tennessee sports I've seen some things blown way out of proportion. But I'm not sure I've ever seen anything as overblown as Eddie DeBro's dunk prior to Saturday's Vol-Vanderbilt basketball game.

For some reason known only to him, the UT walk-on decided to slam one home during pregame warmups. This infraction cost Tennessee a technical foul, allowing Vanderbilt to step to the free throw line before the game officially started. When the game tipped off seconds later, the Vols were trailing 1-0.

Playing much harder, much smarter and much better, Vandy dominated from start to finish and romped 88-63. To hear some folks tell it, though, you would've thought DeBro's technical foul-up was the turning point in the game.

I like Bob Kesling and I think the world of Bert Bertelkamp, but I nearly gagged when their first comments on the post-game Vol Network broadcast were something to the effect: ''Getting that technical foul right off the bat kind of set the tone for the entire game ...''

Huh? The Vols had 40 minutes to overcome a ONE-POINT DEFICIT on their home court. Is that so insurmountable?

Granted, DeBro gave the Commodores a point he shouldn't have. But what about the other 87 points Vandy scored ... the 87 Tennessee gave up by playing Swiss-cheese defense (flat and full of holes) for an entire afternoon? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I never saw DeBro get beat on a single backdoor cut. And I never saw him standing 10 feet from his man when one of the Commodores launched any of their school-record 18 buckets from 3-point range.

My dismay turned to disbelief at Monday's Buzz Peterson news conference. Asked what his team must do differently in Wednesday's game with Mississippi State, the Vol coach replied, ''Well, we don't need people dunking the ball in warmups; that's for sure. That doesn't help at all.''

Peterson went on to note that DeBro would ''pay a penalty'' for his transgression, which ''kind of set the tone a little bit'' in Saturday's game.

Just when it appeared the Vol coach was going to blame the entire 25-point loss to Vanderbilt on DeBro, Peterson reversed his field.

''Did it affect the outcome? No, it didn't,'' he said. ''But I look at every little thing that led us to come out a little flat.''

I'm glad Buzz conceded that pre-game dunk didn't affect the outcome. Up to then, I was beginning to wonder if DeBro was going to be the scapegoat for the Lindbergh kidnapping, the Kennedy assassinations and the 9/11 terrorist attacks, as well.

Like I said: I've seen some things blown out of proportion, but I think this one takes the prize.


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