CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- You've heard of the circle of life.
In regard to West Virginia University's athletic fortunes, that circle is beginning to resemble a basketball.
It's somewhat amusing.
When we last saw WVU's basketball team against real competition, the Mountaineers had been hammered in the NCAA tournament. I wrote then it was somewhat merciful for the team's fans. No more Truck Bryant going 1-on-4. No more finger drumming awaiting improvement from Jabari Hinds. No more teeth grinding when the ball went into Deniz Kilicli.
"Once again," I wrote, "it's football season in the Mountain State."
Today, many are saying it's basketball season in West Virginia. And the basketball season will start for the Mountaineers against the team that ended their 2011-12 season: Gonzaga.
Talk about your circles.
WVU will hit Spokane, Wash., for a midnight regular-season opening affair with the Zags this Monday.
The event is a made-for-TV game that will be replayed next season in Morgantown. Perhaps, though, it would have been better for the Mountaineers to play this one at home. WVU will be flying all over the southwest as a newbie member of the Big 12. This trip can't help.
"Might as well get used to it, huh?" said Mountaineer coach Bob Huggins.
Guess so, but this figures to be a stern test for WVU. The last time the teams met, it was right up the road from Morgantown in Pittsburgh's Consol Energy Center, and not much went right for West Virginia.
Gonzaga went in determined to show it was as tough as any Big East team and drubbed WVU from start to finish, finally settling for a 77-52 victory.
"I just feel like they out-toughed us," Bryant said afterward.
Huggins called his offense the "worst" and "inept."