Gonzaga Basketball: What Bulldogs Must Do in 2014 to Redeem Tournament Failure

Mike ShiekmanFeatured ColumnistMarch 24, 2013

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 11:  Head coach Mark Few of the Gonzaga Bulldogs watches his team during the championship game of the West Coast Conference Basketball tournament against the Saint Mary's Gaels at the Orleans Arena March 11, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Gonzaga won 65-51.  (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
David Becker/Getty Images

A shocking loss to the Wichita State Shockers in the NCAA tournament’s third round sends the Gonzaga Bulldogs home once again.

The ‘Zags have painted themselves a NCAA tournament regular, with 15-straight tournament appearances to their name. The perennial success, though, stops right there.

In that many appearances, including a No. 1 seed this season, they have mustered only one Elite Eight and four Sweet 16 appearances during the streak.

Current head coach Mark Few has led all of those Sweet 16 runs, but he has been unable to exceed expectations when the Bulldogs' roster has been most talented.

As both a No. 3 seed in 2006 and No. 1 seed in this year’s NCAA tournament, they’ve squandered leads late in the second half to end their season.

The Bulldogs won’t go unnoticed next season but will have a ton of critics no matter the success.

Considering they earned that No. 1 seed and failed to live up to the billing, no matter Wichita State’s three-point percentage, there will be a cloud of doubt hanging over Mark Few’s team until they can erase it.

CBS Sports Network's Jon Rothstein echoed the critics after the 'Zags went down in shocking fashion on Saturday:

What’s on Gonzaga’s priority list in their attempt to build on this season’s letdown? Let’s take a look.


Retain Kelly Olynyk

The Bulldogs' interior presence was what made this past Gonzaga team so dominant in conference play this season.

The WCC Player of the Year even played well in his team's disappointing loss, notching 26 points and nine rebounds. Olynyk is currently 13th in DraftExpress’ Top 100 Prospects, prompting the question: will he stay or go?

The 7'0" prospect will likely have a first-round label no matter if he stays or goes to the NBA next year, but this may be the highest his draft stock will ever be.

On the other hand, the ‘Zags should be able to dominate conference play once again with their star center in the fold. If Olynyk does not want to go out on such a sour note, coach Few will have a much better chance of getting redemption in 2014.


Find Replacement for Elias Harris

One of the most efficient scorers in the country, Harris will be sorely missed on a Bulldogs team that thrived behind his slashing ability.

The Bulldogs senior guard gave his team an extra dynamic his entire college career by driving the lane and making plays in transition. With no guards committed to the ‘Zags in the 2013 recruiting cycle just yet, coach Few will call on Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. to carry the scoring load.

NCAA tournament viewers already know what Pangos can do, as he’s an electric shooter with deep range. Bell Jr., though, will be a question mark in an extended role.

If the ‘Zags can get increased production out of him, they’ll have a formidable inside-out attack between their three best players.


Make sure to check out NCAA.com's live stream of every tournament game, stay glued to the live tournament bracket for up-to-the-minute updates and print out a PDF bracket if you’re old school.

Make your picks for the 2013 NCAA tournament here with the Bracket Challenge Game.


Mike Shiekman is a Breaking News Writer for Bleacher Report. Follow his March Madness coverage on Twitter.