Marc Trasolini wants to leave SCU on top

Santa Clara hangs a banner in the Leavey Center to honor Steve Nash, who was the man on campus the last time the Broncos consistently went to the NCAA tournament.

Coach Kerry Keating refers to another Canadian as the current "poster child" for the program he is trying to build.

Marc Trasolini, the team's leader in rebounds, blocked shots and grade-point average, is set to become the first player Keating will have guided as a head coach from recruiting until graduation.

And as the Broncos begin their preseason tour of Trasolini's native Vancouver with a game Tuesday night, the team's lone scholarship senior has hopes of leaving an NCAA tournament legacy of his own.

"It's a wide-open conference," Trasolini said. "Anything can happen.

"We're going to finish first. That's where we expect to be and where we want to be. Saying that, it's not going to be easy."

Santa Clara will be tested in the West Coast Conference, with Gonzaga having won or shared the past 11 straight regular-season titles and defending Mountain West Conference champion BYU joining the league.

"It's a challenge that's waiting for us at the end of December," Keating said. "Our goal is to win the conference."

Keating was awarded a contract extension after his fourth season as coach resulted in the Broncos winning 24 games on their way to the CIT championship. They return their top three scorers in backcourt duo Kevin Foster and Evan Roquemore along with Trasolini, who averaged 12.8 points and 6.1 rebounds.

The gangly 6-foot-9 Trasolini said he put on weight in the offseason so he can better match up with the big men in the conference and also with the hopes that he can play professionally. If the pro career doesn't work out, the finance major does carry a 3.55 grade-point average.

Trasolini's academics was the message that Keating emphasized while speaking to students at the player’s high school, where the team held its shoot-around.

Trasolini said he expected hundreds of his friends to come and support the Broncos during the team's four-game slate in the Vancouver area. Keating said the school reached out to Nash, but it's unclear whether the Phoenix Suns star will be paying the team a visit even if he is nearby practicing soccer with the Vancouver Whitecaps MLS team he co-owns.

Either way, it should be a memorable trip for Trasolini, who said he was taking on more of a leadership role and wanted to show his teammates where he was raised. Keating is hoping they're listening carefully.

"That's the model," he said.