Flame burns bright as guard targets WNBL

Focused: Susi Walmsley hopes her stint as a development player with the Sydney Uni Flames leads to a WNBL contract. Picture: Simone De PeakSUSI Walmsley has been working –striving – towards becoming a professional basketball player all her life.
Nanjing Night Net

Early mornings, late nights, hours on the court, dribbling, shooting, extra gym sessions, four years in the US …what ever it takes.

Now at 25, and after a record breaking season for the Newcastle Hunters in the Waratah Basketball League, Walmsley is on the cusp of realising her dream.

The combo guard is a development player at Women’s National Basketball League powerhouse Sydney Uni Flames.

She attends on-court training sessions with the squad and suits up for home games. Although yet to receive any game time, Walmsley has enjoyed every second.

“Everyone is really positive,” she said. “It’s exciting to play alongside girls I have looked up to since I was young. Training and getting that experience is really good.”

The Flames are 2-2 and boast Rio Olympian Leilani Mitchell and three-time Olympian Belinda Snell.

“Everything happens a lot quicker,” Walmsley said. “You have to be fitter and stronger. I have beenfocusing on ball handling, and obviously being a shooter, I’m always working on things like getting a quick release.”

The opportunity at the Flames came after Walmsley helped steer the Hunters to a maiden championship, culminating in a 55-50 victory over Illawarra.

The 170cm sweet-shooting guard was named MVP of the final, top scoring with 19 points to go with four assists, five steals and four rebounds.Overall she averaged 11.2 point per game and was equal second in the league in assists and steals.

“Her game is a really good level,” Flames coach Cheryl Chambers said. “She is a great shooter and has fitted in to the group like a glove. The more experience she gets the more she will improve. We see her predominately as a point guard. She is working hard on her ball-handling. She came into the program late but she has the tools and the right attitude.”

Newcastle young gunsCassidy McLean and Lara McSpaddenare also on the roster. McLean made her debut, playing two minutes, in the 74-69 win over Bendigo last Friday. McSpadden is studying her HSC exams in Canberra.

Walmsley has been commuting to training but intends to moveto Sydney.

* Meanwhile, Hunter-bornPerth captain Damian Martin will spend two weeks on the sidelines after breaking his jaw in the Wildcats’ 72-69 win over over Melbourne United on Sunday.The Rio Olympian had surgery on Tuesday to insert a plate into his face and will miss clashes against Illawarra and Adelaide.