Opening Jitters

True freshman John Flowers made his first appearance in a Mountaineer uniform in West Virginia's 88-65 win over Mountain State, but even though the game was an exhibition contest, it didn't seem that way to the Maryland native.

"I was nervous before the game, but once you get in the game all the nervousness goes away," said Flowers, who admits to a case of pre-game jitters before every contest. "My palms are sweaty, my hands are sweaty, but you just have to go in there and play hard."

Any player making his first collegiate appearance can be forgiven for having a few butterflies, but for Flowers it might not seem like a game if he didn't have a sense of anticipation that left him on edge. It goes back throughout his career, and even though he has been through it before, it still appears before each contest.

"Before every game I am nervous, but once you get in the flow of it, it's good," said Flowers, a very soft-spoken individual who takes his play seriously. "It was the same thing in high school. In tenth grade, I got into a varsity game, and I made a lot of mistakes. But I just kept playing hard. It was the same kind of thing [tonight]. I've been though it before, so it was not new to me."

Once Flowers overcame his jitters ("It was my first college game, and I was more nervous that I usually am," he said) he stayed true to his word. In nine minutes of action, he scored seven points, snared two rebounds and had a blocked shot. Those aren't eye-popping numbers, to be sure, but they certainly are a solid start for a player on the front edge of his collegiate career – as well as one battling those nerves.

"As soon as I set foot on the floor, and get in, [it goes away]," Flowers said. "I just try to help the team, play ball and do what coach tells you to do. If you don't make any mistakes, things will go your way."

Following his first game, Flowers couldn't put a finger on what he did best. Instead, he reiterated his desire to play hard, which is the first step toward producing good results.

"I don't know what I did best – maybe just play hard. I have to give everything I have. That's what I will do every time I get out there."

On the flip side, it was a corollary to overcoming the butterflies that topped his "To Improve" list.

"I need to calm down," the 6-7 freshman said. "When I got out there, I played a little quick, because I was jittery and nervous. I just need to play basketball. Everything we do in practice, the coaches told us would be in the game, and it was."

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