Toughness and court savvy propels ND’s Pintinalli to a future with Ithaca basketball

March 22, 2024 at 7:00 a.m.
Sharp shooting Simone Pintinalli was a 3-point threat for Notre Dame High and showed the Ithaca coach Dan Raymond enough toughness and court savvy to earn a spot on his team next season. Courtesy photos
Sharp shooting Simone Pintinalli was a 3-point threat for Notre Dame High and showed the Ithaca coach Dan Raymond enough toughness and court savvy to earn a spot on his team next season. Courtesy photos

By RICH FISHER
Contributing Editor

Although she has a penchant for making 3-pointers, Simone Pintinalli is more than just a jump shooter.

Especially in the eyes of Ithaca College women’s basketball coach Dan Raymond, who was so impressed with a gimpy Pintinalli’s performance in an AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) game last summer that he immediately promised the senior in Notre Dame High, Lawrenceville, a spot on his team.

Raymond was as impressed with her court awareness as he was with her toughness. And rest assured, Pintinalli needed to be tough that day.

“The Ithaca coaches told me they were gonna come see me play at a tournament in Kentucky,” Pintinalli said. “Prior to that I was playing for Notre Dame in a summer league game and sprained my ankle really bad. I was in a boot for two weeks. Kentucky was coming up and I was not close to being cleared.”

No matter, Pintinalli was adamant that she be able to show Ithaca her talents, despite being well below 100 percent physically.

“I was limping and crying, I was in so much pain,” she recalled. “(Raymond) went to my mom and said ‘She has a spot here no matter what happens. If this is where she wants to be, tell her don’t play anymore, she proved herself, we know what she has.”

Pintinalli was so impressed by that gesture, it didn’t take long to decide on the upstate New York school.  

“He showed so much care for me as not only a player but as a person and he cared for my well-being,” the Hamilton resident said. “Seeing that quality and how much he cares about people as players and as individuals was such an important aspect. In that second, I knew that’s where I wanted to be.”

Pintinalli has landed with one of NCAA Division III’s top programs, as Ithaca has amassed 15 20-win seasons and 15 NCAA Tournament appearances in Raymond’s 24 seasons.

In watching Pintinalli, the coach saw a girl with grit and basketball IQ.

“AAU is very selfish no matter where you play,” Pintinalli said. “He liked how I always saw the open player and wasn’t always looking for me, me, me. If someone had a better shot than me or was cutting, I always saw them. I saw everything on the court.”

In three full seasons at Notre Dame, Pintinalli collected 87 assists but was better known for her 3-point shooting. She totaled 156, netting 42 as a sophomore, 61 as a junior and 53 this year. She averaged 8.9 points per game and collected 78 steals.

Simone’s efforts this season earned her a first-team berth on the Colonial Valley Conference Coaches’s All-CVC squad. She was also recognized as ND’s Outstanding Female Student-Athlete by the NJSIAA in honor of Girls & Women in Sports Day, and her 3.75 grade point average shows she is also an academic standout.

As for her 3-point prowess, it is something that was ingrained in Pintinalli when she was a kid playing CYO basketball for St. Gregory the Great Parish, Hamilton Square.

“When I was in middle school I always thought it was so cool to see people shooting from so far and hitting threes,” she said. “I wanted to be like that. It was definitely hard. My mom always told me to start closer and I’ll build up strength and it will become easier. When I finally hit my first three-pointer (in 5th grade) I was like ‘Yes! I can finally reach.’ It just went from there.”

Pintinalli honed her craft under the tutelage of Ali Napolitano, her New Jersey Rise AAU coach. She credits Jeff Allen, a trainer at Fan Favorite Basketball Club, West Windsor, for helping her and believing in her during tough times. Also aiding her in good times and bad is the power of prayer, as Simone prays before school, before bedtime and before games. 

Standing just 5-foot-6, she has always been an underdog growing up, which is part of what has fueled her success.

“I was always the smallest on the court,” Pintinalli said. “I didn’t have a growth spurt until freshman year, and I was still small. I feel like people always overlooked me, thinking ‘Oh you can just let her go.’ It gave me a lot of opportunities to prove myself.”


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Although she has a penchant for making 3-pointers, Simone Pintinalli is more than just a jump shooter.

Especially in the eyes of Ithaca College women’s basketball coach Dan Raymond, who was so impressed with a gimpy Pintinalli’s performance in an AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) game last summer that he immediately promised the senior in Notre Dame High, Lawrenceville, a spot on his team.

Raymond was as impressed with her court awareness as he was with her toughness. And rest assured, Pintinalli needed to be tough that day.

“The Ithaca coaches told me they were gonna come see me play at a tournament in Kentucky,” Pintinalli said. “Prior to that I was playing for Notre Dame in a summer league game and sprained my ankle really bad. I was in a boot for two weeks. Kentucky was coming up and I was not close to being cleared.”

No matter, Pintinalli was adamant that she be able to show Ithaca her talents, despite being well below 100 percent physically.

“I was limping and crying, I was in so much pain,” she recalled. “(Raymond) went to my mom and said ‘She has a spot here no matter what happens. If this is where she wants to be, tell her don’t play anymore, she proved herself, we know what she has.”

Pintinalli was so impressed by that gesture, it didn’t take long to decide on the upstate New York school.  

“He showed so much care for me as not only a player but as a person and he cared for my well-being,” the Hamilton resident said. “Seeing that quality and how much he cares about people as players and as individuals was such an important aspect. In that second, I knew that’s where I wanted to be.”

Pintinalli has landed with one of NCAA Division III’s top programs, as Ithaca has amassed 15 20-win seasons and 15 NCAA Tournament appearances in Raymond’s 24 seasons.

In watching Pintinalli, the coach saw a girl with grit and basketball IQ.

“AAU is very selfish no matter where you play,” Pintinalli said. “He liked how I always saw the open player and wasn’t always looking for me, me, me. If someone had a better shot than me or was cutting, I always saw them. I saw everything on the court.”

In three full seasons at Notre Dame, Pintinalli collected 87 assists but was better known for her 3-point shooting. She totaled 156, netting 42 as a sophomore, 61 as a junior and 53 this year. She averaged 8.9 points per game and collected 78 steals.

Simone’s efforts this season earned her a first-team berth on the Colonial Valley Conference Coaches’s All-CVC squad. She was also recognized as ND’s Outstanding Female Student-Athlete by the NJSIAA in honor of Girls & Women in Sports Day, and her 3.75 grade point average shows she is also an academic standout.

As for her 3-point prowess, it is something that was ingrained in Pintinalli when she was a kid playing CYO basketball for St. Gregory the Great Parish, Hamilton Square.

“When I was in middle school I always thought it was so cool to see people shooting from so far and hitting threes,” she said. “I wanted to be like that. It was definitely hard. My mom always told me to start closer and I’ll build up strength and it will become easier. When I finally hit my first three-pointer (in 5th grade) I was like ‘Yes! I can finally reach.’ It just went from there.”

Pintinalli honed her craft under the tutelage of Ali Napolitano, her New Jersey Rise AAU coach. She credits Jeff Allen, a trainer at Fan Favorite Basketball Club, West Windsor, for helping her and believing in her during tough times. Also aiding her in good times and bad is the power of prayer, as Simone prays before school, before bedtime and before games. 

Standing just 5-foot-6, she has always been an underdog growing up, which is part of what has fueled her success.

“I was always the smallest on the court,” Pintinalli said. “I didn’t have a growth spurt until freshman year, and I was still small. I feel like people always overlooked me, thinking ‘Oh you can just let her go.’ It gave me a lot of opportunities to prove myself.”

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