With the suddenness of a flash of lightning across a summer night’s sky, basketball season has ended, leaving us with one undeniable life lesson — things are not always as they seem.

Consider, if you will:

A firefly is not a fly — it is a beetle.

And, like the firefly, this basketball season was one that glowed brightly one moment, only to turn dark the next.

The men’s team came into the year as an unknown, expectations down from a year ago when Bob Huggins led them to the Final Four, invigorating national championship hopes, but Da’Sean Butler, Devin Ebanks and Wellington Smith were gone.

The women’s team came in with dreams of challenging for a national championship dancing in their head and with beating Connecticut and winning the Big East as their stated mission.

When the Mountaineers won 16 in a row, it seemed as though all this was possible.

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But things are not always as they seem. Consider:

A prairie dog is not a dog — it is a rodent.

A dog is a pet, man’s best friend. A rodent, well, it’s a rat, vermin, and so it went this year.

There was always some kind of soap opera going on with the men, holding them back, be it freshman Noah Cottrill being suspended and leaving the team; Casey Mitchell some days scoring 30, some barely playing, others suspended; or Danny Jennings quitting the team in mid-game.

It was not as it seemed with the Mountaineer women, either, the season starting with point guard Sarah Miles unable to play due to injury and ending with her being helped off the court with a knee injury, her career over along with a season that never reached the heights it should have due to the injuries.

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There was the bad. Consider:

A lead pencil contains no lead — it’s made of graphite.

And it has an eraser because things are not as they seem and the good sometimes turns bad.

As the season wore along the men had all this turmoil, had lost games they should have won, including the Capitol Classic to Marshall, but fortunately it was written in pencil and they were able to erase it.

The women’s 16-0 start was not what it seemed and before long it, too, was being erased by a stretch of 10 losses in 18 games, leaving the season’s legacy of being a team that underachieved.

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And there was good. Consider:

A shooting star is not a star — it is a meteor.

On the men’s side: Casey Mitchell was one of the top scorers in the Big East early in the year, a shooting star, so to speak.

Joe Mazzulla ended his career with a dazzling 20-point performance against Kentucky, the second year in a row he shredded the Wildcats.

Juniors Kevin Jones and Truck Bryant both reached 1,000 points in their careers.

On the women’s side, Liz Repella closed her career with season-high point totals in each of her last two games, scoring 26 against Houston and 29 against Baylor. The 29 points were more than any Mountaineer player had scored in the NCAA.

Madina Ali capped her career against Houston by becoming the fourth player in WVU history to score a double-double in an NCAA game.

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And then there is this:

A silkworm is not a worm — it’s a caterpillar.

We offer this because a silkworm is not exactly the most beautiful of creatures, but it creates in silk something that is smooth as ... well, silk.

So it is with a basketball player who comes to school as a freshman, hardly a thing of beauty when it arrives, but by the time it is a senior it is hoped that it is a silk masterpiece, and that certainly happened with any number of the West Virginia players, both men and women, to whom we said goodbye.

Joe Mazzulla, Cam Thoroughman, Jonnie West and John Flowers certainly were more silkworm than silk handkerchief when they arrived, but by the time they helped the team to a Final Four finish and then an overachieving senior year, they were memorable pieces of WVU basketball history.

And, on the women’s side, the four-year seniors, Liz Repella and Sarah Miles, were everything to their team that the senior men were to theirs, productive, classy, friendly, intelligent and on the road to success.

They all, really, the six of them, came to know and love West Virginia, the state, and West Virginia, the university, caring about the school and the fans. It was something that came across in their every action, a warm current that flowed between athlete and student.

You could see as Flowers led crowds in doing the Dougie and as the attendance at women’s games grew and grew, developing its own following with portions of the Morgantown society that could call it their own — the old and the young.

If these two senior classes are not remembered for the championships they won in their senior seasons, fear not and remember this:

Things are not always as they seem.

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com.

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