Sheray Thomas insists he's not taken criticism of his play from fans and media members personally. He also emphasizes that criticism has not given him any extra motivation to prove critics wrong going into his final basketball season at Kentucky.
"When I see, hear or read the criticism, it doesn't bother me," he said. "Everybody has his or her point of view. I just want to try and make myself better. My goal is to change the point of views my critics have. I want to go out and have them say, ‘Sheray really is a great player for Kentucky.'"
He now openly admits the surgery he had before his sophomore year to remove a non-cancerous tumor set him back more than he acknowledged. He not only lost weight and strength, but he missed valuable practice time.
"It set me back a lot. Coming back from that surgery, I was just down and didn't really have the energy to help the team," Thomas said. "I never wanted to make excuses. It was hard mentally and emotionally as well. Everybody was looking at me and seeing how weak I was."
He says Dave Kindy, UK's trainer, helped him through his most difficult time.
"He kept telling me I would be fine. I would go over and he would reassure me I would be fine. The coaching staff also took its time bringing me back real slow, and I appreciated that," Thomas said. "All that did change my perspective on life and basketball a little. I realized when you are hit with something; you deal with it and keep on pushing."
Thomas isn't sure the Wildcats did that last year when they let losses and other distractions influence the team.
"We can't base this year on last year. We can't dwell on the past," he said. "It's still early and I can't promise anything, but I believe you are going to see a different mindset on this team. That mindset is huge. You can see teams on paper that don't look as good as you, but if you are mentally weak you have no shot at a team that is mentally stronger and can outlast you in tough times.
"Last year a lot of things went wrong. If we had made a shot here or there, grabbed a rebound or two more, or did some little things better, our whole season could have been totally different. If we had hit a big shot or two, things could have been different. We could have been a lot better. We should have been better. We should have won seven or eight more games."
Did Kentucky perhaps have too many equal players?
"You could say yes or no.Teams with all-star quality like (the U.S. Olympic) Dream Team may work. But look at the Lakers a couple years ago with all the talent they had, but they couldn't win a championship," Thomas said. "Kentucky always brings in enough talent to win the SEC and go to the Final Four every year. We just have to go out and do it because we have enough talent to reach those goals this year."
Criticism doesn't bother Thomas
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