Success surprise for sharp shooter

Newcastle Hunter guard Freya Roebuck.NEWCASTLE Hunters sharp-shooter Freya Roebuck is happy to keep juggling basketball with her medical studies for as long as she can.

The 20-year-old, 169-centimetre guard led University of Newcastle to victory at the Australian Uni Games in Sydney this month and was named in the all-tournament merit team.

Playing alongside Hunters teammates Jill Morgan, Kelsey Moss and Cassie Pentney, Roebuck top-scored in Newcastle’s 61-30 victory over Griffith University in the division two final to cap a perfect 10-0 record for the tournament.

‘‘I’m pretty sure they picked seven girls from division one and only three from division two, so I was really flattered to be recognised when we were playing division two,’’ Roebuck said.

‘‘Because I’d been between the end of the Hunters and the start of Uni Games, I’d been working on my fitness and back-to-basics core stuff rather than fine-tuning my basketball, so I wasn’t surprised that I was a bit rusty at the start of the week.

‘‘We didn’t do a lot of team training either, with people being busy towards the end of the semester and stuff, but towards the end of the week I got on a roll and in the grand final when it mattered I guess I stepped up and surprised myself a little bit.’’

Newcastle coach Rohan Stevenson said Roebuck benefited from the extra defensive attention opponents directed towards Morgan.

‘‘They double-teamed Jill in the post and that made life easier for the shooters, and Freya made her shots,’’ Stevenson said.

The University of Newcastle men’s team were silver medallists, going down 66-65 to Victoria University in the final. Power forward Tye McGann, who plays in the Waratah Basketball League for Central Coast Crusaders, was named in the all-tournament team.

‘‘For Newcastle to be competing for the first time in 12 years and getting those results, a gold and a silver medal and two players named in the all-tournament teams, it shows that we punched above our weight and caught some of the bigger schools off guard.’’

Originally from Bathurst, Roebuck has just completed her first season with the Hunters. She played for the Waratah championship and Youth League teams, and hopes to be selected for both again next year.

‘‘Having that year of experience under my belt will be good,’’ she said.

‘‘Our team really gelled well this year, and we probably got on even better off the court than we did on the court, so hopefully we can build on that for next year.’’

Roebuck is in the second year of a three-year biomedical science degree and plans to study postgraduate medicine in Sydney.

Her father, former Wallabies fullback Marty Roebuck, is studying the same course in Sydney and she said they often swapped notes.

Marty is no stranger to Newcastle after captaining the now-defunct Wildfires in the NSW club rugby union competition in the mid-1990s.

‘‘I’ve learnt a lot from him, and a lot of it is relevant to what I’m doing,’’ she said.

‘‘He was a physio for 20-odd years after he finished up with his rugby, then in 2012 he decided to go back to uni.’’

She would prefer to stay and play in Newcastle beyond the end of next year but was sure her studies would take her to Sydney, where she hoped to continue playing in the WBL.

‘‘Studying medicine will be really intense, so I’ll probably have to decide between basketball and that, but when it comes down to it, if I’m going to be in Sydney doing medicine I can always hook up with a club down there and see how I go from there.’’

She said it would be great if she could go further in basketball, but is happy playing at this level for the moment.