Newton’s Second Law of Motion states that Force = Mass times Acceleration. When Sean Roebuck was a 150-pound linebacker for the Marana Tigers back in the 1990s, he instinctively understood that principle. “I wasn’t very big,” he explains, “but if I ran at people really fast, I could take them down.”
Roebuck was a Renaissance athlete, a two-way starter in football, a star guard in basketball and a multi-position player in baseball. After high school, he played basketball at Central Arizona, leading his team to the Conference title as a sophomore before moving on to Western Montana.
While in high school, Sean met his future wife, the former Monica Flores, who helped lead Mountain View to the 1995 State championship in soccer.
“I always hated everything about Mountain View. But after I met Monica, I hated everything minus one.”
(The couple celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary just last week.)
These days, Roebuck is back at Marana High, working as an Intervention Specialist by day and head boys basketball coach by afternoon and evening…and Saturdays.
Last season was the kind of year that makes some basketball coaches want to become former basketball coaches. While the Tigers had a winning record, it could easily have been so much better. They blew a late lead and lost in overtime to rival Mountain View. They lost twice to conference foe Ironwood Ridge—both times by two points. They also lost by 2 at Sunnyside and lost twice to Nogales in games that went down to the wire.
To make the pain of those losses sting just a little bit more, at the end of the season, Marana had to travel to Sierra Vista to face the conference champion Buena Colts. Marana won going away, 73-60, snapping the Colts’ 17-game winning streak in the process.
“It was a good year, but it’s frustrating how close it came to being a great year,” says Roebuck.
For many coaches, even the most hardened and those who have been through it all, this coming year could easily be seen as a “What Coulda Been” season. Roebuck is missing three potential starters on what would have been one of the best teams in the entire state. One kid has transferred to a school in a rural part of Arizona for personal reasons. Another kid’s head got turned by a club “coach” and is now at a basketball academy/factory that masquerades as a charter school. And then there’s D’Marco Dunn.
This kid exploded on the Southern Arizona basketball scene as a sophomore, an “Oh my gosh, did you see that?!” kind of player. “One of the great things about him,” recalls Roebuck, “was that he didn’t even know how good he was or how good he could become. He just showed up with a smile on his face and worked.”
After the stellar sophomore season, Dunn was considered one of the top prospects in the state and the future of Marana Tiger boys’ basketball was as bright as it had ever been in the program’s illustrious history. But some family issues flared up and Dunn and his mom moved across the country.
How good did he turn out to be? He recently signed with the University of North Carolina Tar Heels. “But,” says Roebuck with a sigh, “all you can do is coach the ones who show up.”
And show up they do, in droves. When COVID-delayed practice finally started last week, no fewer than 65 kids showed up the first day. That’s 20 more than Roebuck can keep.
“That’s the hardest thing for me as a coach, having to cut kids. We do everything we can to keep kids around the program, to keep them engaged. We find things for them to do.”
Leading the way this year will be the coach’s son, Isaiah Roebuck, a freakishly talented multi-sport athlete who is following in his dad’s footsteps. Isaiah is currently considering football scholarship offers from D-1 schools, but says that if he does play football, he wants assurances from the football coaching staff that he will also be allowed to play baseball in the spring. He could also receive a signing-bonus offer from some major-league baseball team early next summer. Tough spot for a kid to be in.
Joining Isaiah Roebuck will be junior Wes Ball. Last year, his first season on the varsity, Ball was so slender, he could dodge raindrops. This year, he has bulked up. “He’s definitely going to be a defensive force,” says the coach.
Ball is the grandson of Kenny Ball, a starter on what is widely considered to be the greatest boys basketball team in Tucson history, the 1969 Tucson Badgers, led by playground legend Hoegie Simmons.
Roebuck is expecting his team to be a (Mass times Acceleration) to be reckoned with.