MHERST - Shannon Crooks is not the last to know when his nerves are jumping out of control. The UMass guard knows when he's been indiscreet - when a shot has been ill-advised.
But Crooks is also a bit on the high-strung side. After missing a year following his transfer from St. John's, the former Everett High star now wants to shoot like Monty Mack and run an offense like Gary Payton every time down the floor.
``He'd come back to the bench and tell us how overanxious he was feeling, and then go back out there and chuck up a 3,'' said UMass associate coach Geoff Arnold, who coached the Minutemen during Thursday night's 70-51 win over Boston University while head coach Bruiser Flint was serving his self-imposed one-game suspension.
``He took that shot, and my response was, `You say you're overanxious?' But he has to understand that you can't get it all back in three games,'' said Arnold.
Crooks came off the bench for the first time in three games, played under control and finished with 10 points, four rebounds and four assists.
The ante will be increased today at Boston College, against a team that is more experienced and talented than BU.
``I've just tried to stay patient,'' Crooks said of his early season education.
``I'm trying to go with the flow, and just let things come to me. I felt in some of the earlier games that I was pressuring myself. But I've decided to try and have more fun, and take things more gradually.''
Fitting into the flow of a game hasn't been an easy task for anyone on this 2-2 UMass team, let alone someone wearing the Minuteman uniform for the first time this season.
Little wonder that Flint was quick to accentuate the good parts of Crooks' game against BU.
``It was Shannon's best game so far,'' said Flint. ``He took good shots, and he didn't make a lot of crazy turnovers. And for him, he really seemed to ease up on himself.''