The Dagger - NCAAB

Marc Trasolini’s ACL tear is crushing for improving Santa ClaraSanta Clara's hopes of loosening Gonzaga's stranglehold in the West Coast Conference have taken a major hit.

In the first game of the Broncos' exhibition tour of Vancouver on Tuesday night, starting forward Marc Trasolini suffered a torn ACL in his left knee that will sideline him for the entire 2011-12 season. The 6-foot-9 senior suffered the injury in the opening two minutes of a loss to Trinity Western University when he came down on the leg after attempting a shot.

The injury to Trasolini is a cruel blow since Santa Clara planned its preseason trip with the idea that the Vancouver native would get the chance to play at home. Dozens of his friends and family members were expected to attend to watch Trasolini play in person, but they were likely still settling into their seats when his season ended.

"It's pretty bad it happened here on this trip, but it's worse I can't play this season," Trasolini said in a statement.  It hurts.  It hurts a lot.  But I will get better and be back next season."

The absence of Trasolini deprives Santa Clara of its second-leading scorer, lone scholarship senior and top interior complement to star guards Kevin Foster and Evan Roquemore. Trasolini averaged 12.8 points and a team-best 6.1 rebounds in 26.4 minutes per game last season, helping Santa Clara go on a surprising run to the CIT championship.

Santa Clara also graduated forwards Ben Dowdell and Troy Payne, leaving the Broncos devoid of much experience in the frontcourt next season. 6-foot-7 Niyi Harrison is the only returning interior player who logged consistent minutes down the stretch last season, though 6-foot-8 sophomore John McArthur also played sparingly in the postseason.

Neither of those guys are likely to be able to replace Trasolini's production individually, so it will have to be a team effort if Santa Clara is going to contend with the likes of Gonzaga, Saint Mary's and BYU.

"Marc has done everything, and I mean everything right, to put himself into the position to have a great senior year and for this to happen, especially considering the circumstances, is disheartening and unfortunate," coach Kerry Keating said in a statement. "Marc did an unbelievable job of preparing himself in mind and body this spring and summer after having a terrific junior season to have an even better senior season and help lead the team to new heights, which he will have do now from the sidelines while he rehabs his injury and gets ready to have that terrific season the following year."

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