Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Giving credit where credit is due

After Arizona lost recently to rival Arizona State, UA coach Russ Pennell said:

"The one thing that fans never do is... give credit to the opponent or factor them in."

It's an interesting point, one that I made recently to my son after a game. While you and your team may not have played as well as you would have liked, it's quite possible that your opponent had something to do with that.

Essentially, I told him, "Remember, they practice, prepare, and work just as hard as you do. They want to win, too. That's what makes it fun."

Earlier this season, after TOR beat the Spurs, SA coach Gregg Popovich (pictured above) made it a point to praise his opponent:

"We didn't look past [this game] at all. We are not built like that and our guys don't do that. We busted our asses tonight and down the stretch they hit about two or three [three-pointers.] They earned the victory so it has nothing to do with us not being ready. Give them credit."

Two weeks earlier, it was TOR coach Jay Triano who, after his club lost to the Bucks, praised his opponent. Said Coach Triano: "I give them credit because they outworked us."

When his team lost to MIA earlier this month, CHA coach Larry Brown wasn't unhappy with his team's play, but recognized the Heat's performance. "I thought we played good, they just played great," he said.

And after Steve Fisher's San Diego State team lost badly on the road at New Mexico last Saturday, Coach Fisher gave UNM credit for playing well.

"New Mexico played great,” he said. "They hit their shots. They played great defense and they did to us what they've done to a number of other teams in here."

After a loss, it's natural to think about your mistakes and what you would have done differently. But don't forget about your opponent's talent, preparation, and effort. If your team played as well as it could have -- and with a full effort -- and you lose, it's likely that the opponent was simply better. Give them credit.