Game Ready: How Basketball Helped Danielle Pavinelli in Lacrosse


This article appears in the December edition of USA Lacrosse Magazine. Join our momentum.

As lacrosse grows and more opportunities to play collegiately and professionally take shape, young players may be tempted to specialize in it.

Danielle Pavinelli, however, is grateful for her multi-sport start.

Pavinelli starred in lacrosse and basketball at Northport High School on Long Island.  On the hardwood, she amassed more than 1,000 career points and was a three-time All-Suffolk County honoree.

Pavinelli also racked up more than 300 points in lacrosse despite losing her senior season to COVID-19 and was Newsday’s 2019 Suffolk County Player of the Year after leading Long Island in scoring and winning a state title.

Pavinelli’s success in one sport constantly fed into the other.

“It’s been to my advantage to see how things connect in both sports and being able to grow,” said Pavinelli, who also played for the U.S. Sixes team at The World Games in Birmingham, Alabama, over the summer.

An All-American attacker at Florida, Pavinelli discussed how her basketball skills have also been a slam dunk on the lacrosse field.


The goal of basketball and lacrosse is the same: Get a ball in a net. Defenses react similarly in both sports to prevent an offensive player from scoring. Everyone crashes in on the driving player as they get close to the net.

That’s when the IQ Pavinelli developed in both sports takes over.

“Being able to handle a basketball is similar to weaving in and out with your lacrosse stick,” Pavinelli said. “Being agile and getting through the defense in basketball has helped tremendously on the lacrosse field.”


The pace of basketball requires players to keep their heads up.

“As soon as you get a rebound, you have to look up the court, and I think that helps a lot on the lacrosse field,” Pavinelli said. “You always have to have your head up, looking for the next play and trying to push for the fast break or slow break.”


In basketball, Pavinelli must operate in a smaller space — an aspect of the game that forced her to not only think fast but work quickly on the lacrosse field.

“You need to have quick feet and get from one point to another very quickly,” Pavinelli said. “In lacrosse, you have more space, but I am able to get through things quicker because I’m used to the smaller area of the basketball court.”

Even the moves are similar. When you see Pavinelli split dodge on the field, know she perfected that move by working on crossovers in basketball.


After the graduations of Shannon Kavanagh, Grace Haus and Brianna Harris in 2021, the Gators looked to Pavinelli to lead the offense last season. And did she ever, posting a team-best 99 points on 73 goals and 26 assists as an IWLCA second-team All-American.

She drew on her basketball roots, particularly when it came time to play in pairs.

“I can have someone set a pick for me and roll to the net,” Pavinelli said. “Being able to read those things in lacrosse, where I may have an iso or be able to make a play with this person, that’s something I may have done in basketball.”


Though Pavinelli is best known for her offensive output, she’s not afraid to roll up her sleeves on defense. Pavinelli ranked fifth on Florida in caused turnovers (13) and tallied 13 draws and 17 ground balls as a sophomore.

The Gators finished 17-5 and advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals. Pavinelli doesn’t think twice about doing whatever it takes to win. She got that from hoops too.

“Basketball is a very scrappy sport,” she said. “You get loose balls and jump balls in basketball by being super aggressive and playing as hard as you possibly can on the court.”

Ditto for the draw circle, ride and between the 30s.


Most Recent

Suspended Seniors Return in Brown's Upset of No. 6 Villanova

Brown wasted no time showing what it’s capable of at full strength.

Adelphi Looking Dangerous in Nike/USA Lacrosse Division II Men's Top 20

There might not be a hotter team in D-II right now than Adelphi.

Movement Galore Outside Top 6 of Nike/USA Lacrosse Division III Men's Top 20

Two new teams — Amherst and Bowdoin — join the top 10 in this week's update.

West Chester Tops Nike/USA Lacrosse D-II Women's Top 20 for 4th Straight Week

West Chester solidified its standing with a 16-5 win over East Stroudsburg.

Twitter Posts