Why Basketball Players Make the Best Lacrosse Athletes


McGlone's basketball background made for an easy transition from field to box lacrosse with the NLL's Chicago Shamrox.

One day heading into my senior year, I received a call from Maryland teammate and future Team USA defenseman Joe Cinosky.

“Steve ‘The Franchise’ Francis is in the Comcast gym shooting hoops with a few other guys,” he said, knowing I’d be there in seconds.

I grabbed my shoes, hustled up to the court and started shooting inconspicuously on the side basket, waiting for my opening. Before long, my plan worked, and Steve asked if I wanted to join in a game of 21. While the Orlando Magic point guard scored on me twice, I stole the ball from him once and even drove to the basket and scored when we were matched up 1v1. Being able to hang with a first-team All-NBA pro provided confidence for the upcoming lacrosse season.

Being a multi-sport athlete whose first love was basketball made me the lacrosse player I am. Like lacrosse, basketball is a fast-paced game with continuous action and the freedom to make plays on the fly. Basketball requires hand-eye coordination, speed, agility, vision and IQ — also essential skills in lacrosse.

To see how Bill McGlone and Trilogy Lacrosse bridge two less similar sports, check out “Trilogy Blueprint | Part 7: Surf + Lax” at youtube.com/trilogylacrossetv.

I was lightly recruited for basketball out of Philadelphia-area Ridley High School. Temple took interest in me. But I knew I could combine a great education with on-field success in lacrosse, so, as LeBron would say, I took my talents to College Park.

At Maryland, Joe Walters (also a great hooper) and I often met up with freshman studs Nick Caner-Medley and John Gilchrist to shoot around in the old Cole Field House. We became supporters of each other’s careers.I later found out that then-Maryland lacrosse coach Dave Cottle’s perception of me as an athlete was elevated when he watched me play high school basketball during the recruiting process.

After college, I was drafted into the NLL. Because of my basketball background, I succeeded in what was essentially a brand-new game. Setting picks, passing and cutting/picking, getting back into the hole after a shot, playing defense and being aggressive were all things I knew from basketball. And luckily for me, they were key elements that allowed me to compete with the Canadians, who had some of the slickest sticks I had ever seen. I made the Chicago Shamrox’s opening day roster and eventually made the All-Rookie Team. I built confidence every time I stepped on the floor when I thought to myself, “None of these guys can beat me in basketball.” 

You can tell which lacrosse players have good basketball backgrounds. Kyle Harrison has one of the strongest splits in the game, which is essentially the same as a crossover in basketball. Walters plays hoops just like he plays lacrosse — he can spot up from anywhere on the floor and drain buckets. My ability to drive the lane on the court and draw defenders translated to the field when I sliced and diced through the heart of the defense to make a play.

So whether you are a young player looking for an edge in your development, or a top NCAA recruit waiting for a coach’s call, maybe instead of hitting the wall for an hour every other day, hit your local basketball court.

And if you happen to see “The Franchise,” tell him I’m still only down by 1.

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