Marc Trasolini Steps Up
After a major loss the Broncos have found a new leader.
by Ray Bala
What do you do when you lose the conference player of the year to graduation and then lose your top scorer, who happened to be conference rookie of the year a season ago, to injury early in the current season of a very young team? Well, if you’re the Santa Clara Broncos you simple hand over the reins to Marc Trasolini.
Trasolini has been pushed into the role of lead for this season’s team after high scoring guard Kevin Foster went down seven games into the ‘09-10 campaign to a serious injury and he has been more than up to the challenge. He has suddenly gone from an option to primary option and he has been able to thrive in that role this year. Marc’s current production may be a bit of a surprise to many college basketball observers but not to Head Coach Kerry Keating.
“I saw a lot of potential in Marc as the season progressed last year that he could be a special player,” says Keating. “He’s got the size, skill and natural talent to put himself in that position (of lead player) first and foremost. Then it becomes (his) willingness to accept that and take it to heart.”
In the absence of Foster, Traz as he’s known in the locker room has upped his scoring output to 14.6 and his rebounding to 6.2 in about the same amount of floor time as last year, both of which lead the team, while providing a steady post presence and keeping everybody loose on the very young team. More importantly, he’s given something for the Bronco faithful to cheer for in this rough year and be optimistic for the next one.
But Marc wasn’t all cheers just a few short months ago.
After a good freshman season that saw him named to the WCC All Freshman team along with fellow rookie Foster, Trasolini was sidelined with mono in the spring which knocked him out for about two months. This prevented him from continuing to ride the wave of his successful season and almost put a damper on his summer plans to join the Canadian Junior National Team in New Zealand. He was only cleared a few days from the FIBA World U19 Championships, which gave him little time to get back into game form after the lengthy lay off.
“Not doing anything for two months takes away from everything,” recalls the 2010 Academic All District honoree. “(When I went to New Zealand) I had no jumper, I wasn’t strong, I couldn’t get up and down the floor. When I got back (to playing) I was pretty tentative but I tried to play through it.”
But even though he was not in true form, Marc still played every game and averaged a modest 7 points on 51 percent from the floor to go with 4.8 rebounds for the tournament. But most importantly he also came away realizing he could play at that level. So when he got back home to Vancouver, he got some much needed rest and then got back to campus to prepare for the coming season. He hit the gym, got in the weight room, started playing ball again and by the start of the season he was rounding back into shape to tackle his sophomore year.
When you ask Traz about his expectations for this season, he knew he would have a bigger role to play for the Broncos to be successful. Losing WCC Player of the Year John Bryant to graduation, the numbers he put up and the defensive attention he commanded are never easy to replace even on very good teams but Marc was aware of what he had to do: diversify.
“With John gone, I saw that as my opportunity to do whatever I could to help the team. I worked really hard on expanding my game. Not just scoring on the block but scoring inside and outside.”
Having been mostly an interior guy as a freshman, he has used his feathery shot to help open space for himself this time around, even taking it to the arc. He’s made 19 of his 52 attempts this season as of press time, four of them on Gonzaga January 28, so he can knock them down. And this is probably the biggest surprise for most of the bigs who have tried to guard Trasolini. He was already very good down low but he has been given the green light but Coach Keating to take the threes when they’re available to him, which has made him that much harder to defend. But since he’s still building confidence in his three range he’s still a little shy on pulling the trigger right now.
“I knew I could knock ‘em down but I never thought about them in games,” says Marc matter-of-factly. “Some of it is confidence, just not having shot many threes. I didn’t shoot any last year so these are basically my first threes. I just gotta keep working on being consistent, not getting down on myself and keep pushing through it.”
And Coach Keating is aware of this as well. He knows Trasolini, who was recently named All West Coast Conference honorable mention, is still a work in progress and will have his ups and downs as his career continues much like his young Broncos who are sporting a respectable 11-20 record overall. Keating knows the young big man is still learning not only the game, but to be comfortable in his abilities as well. With nothing but glowing remarks on how far he’s come so far in a short time Coach is adamant about one point: Traz can be a great player.
“(For Marc) it’s a matter of realizing that (he can be) one of the best players on the floor, accepting that reality and making it happen. That’s the beauty of it. He has so much more room to grow and improve. He’s already commanding double teams as a sophomore and it’s just a matter of him putting it all together. Once we to that point the sky’s the limit.”
Ray Bala is a freelance sports writer from Toronto. Catch Ray covering all things Canadian basketball at Raptors HQ in The Can Ball Report.