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Call to Greatness: Six Former Blackbirds Elected to 13th Hall of Fame Class

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Only one day after former Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin was the lone player selected for a coveted spot in Cooperstown, N.Y., LIU-Brooklyn revealed that it will enshrine six of its former student-athletes in the ever-growing Downtown Brooklyn school’s Hall of Fame.
 
The 13th group of inductees will include Freddie Burton, a fixture on the late 1980s men’s basketball teams, women’s track and field star Camilla Harris, baseball player Louis Hernandez, Sam Izajar of the men’s soccer club, softballer Sharon Pascale and Cristina Pintilie, the first women’s volleyballer to earn the distinction.
 
“We are very happy to be honoring this group of very deserving individuals,” LIU-Brooklyn director of athletics John Suarez said. 
 
“These great Blackbirds athletes all enjoyed tremendous success as individuals and as members of their respective teams. Their accomplishments embody the outstanding tradition of athletics success that they helped to establish as student-athletes while at LIU Brooklyn.”
 
The distinguished half-dozen will be honored during halftime of the Blackbirds’ men’s basketball game against Central Connecticut State on Feb. 4 — the eve of Super Bowl XLVI.  
 
A special banquet will be held on campus later that evening to further highlight some of the inductees’ achievements during their days at LIU.
The latest class joins 78 individuals and three teams that are permanently enshrined in the LIU Brooklyn Athletics Hall of Fame, which is on display at the entrance to the Wellness, Recreation and Athletics Center.
 
Chosen by a committee of current and former school administrators, this year’s class features players who attended LIU over the previous three decades.
 
Burton played for the Blackbirds from 1986-89, finishing second all-time with 1,540 points and fifth with 836 career rebounds. A three-time all-conference honoree, he left as the all-time leader in free throws attempted (723) and was second in free throws made (391). 
 
Burton also led the team in rebounding each of his three seasons, including an average of 11.0 per game as a senior to finish eighth in the entire nation. He was a Lai-Lynch Award winner as the Most Valuable Player in the annual Battle of Brooklyn game against neighborhood rival St. Francis and was a fourth team All-Met selection in 1988-89.
Harris, who competed for the Blackbirds’ track-and-field squad from 1998 to 2003, graduated with six school records in her possession: 55-meter indoor hurdles, 60-meter indoor hurdles, indoor triple jump, indoor long jump, outdoor triple jump and outdoor long jump. 
 
She was also a member of the school-record 4x100-meter relay team. Harris earned Northeast Conference Women’s Most Valuable Performer honors at both the 2002 and 2003 Indoor Championships, helping LIU to consecutive titles. She was also named the 2003 Indoor Championships Most Outstanding Performer. Harris still holds the NEC Indoor Championship long jump record with a leap of 6.07 meters.
 
Hernandez left LIU with the third-best batting average in school history at .393 while placing second with 170 hits. He graduated with LIU records of 34 home runs, 40 doubles and 156 RBIs over a career that spanned from 1984-87. Hernandez batted an astounding .442 in 1986, the eighth-best school mark at the time, establishing single-season RBI records with 46 in 1985 and again in 1986 with 47. 
 
LIU won 83 games during his four seasons, including the 1984 and 1985 Metropolitan Conference titles.
 
Izajar played for the Blackbirds from 1982-85, earning Third Team All-America honors as both a junior and a senior. He was named First-Team All-State in 1985, tallying a goal and two assists in his senior year. Called the “Black Stallion” by his teammates, Izajar was a defensive bulldog but also managed to score two goals and assist on five more as a freshman.
All-NEC selection and LIU assistant softball coach Sharon Pascale will be inducted to the school’s Hall of Fame posthumously.
Pascale was the Blackbirds’ first All-NEC performer on the softball field, playing from 1992-95 and earning all-conference honors as a senior after batting .331 with four home runs and 10 stolen bases. 
 
She graduated after bashing a school-record 14 homers, leading the team in that category from 1993-95. Pascale is also among the career leaders in both slugging and on-base percentage. A former LIU assistant coach, she died tragically in a car accident in 2001.
 
Pintilie was a program-changing volleyball standout from 2002-04. She holds the all-time kills record with 2,037 — almost 400 more than the second-ranked player. 
 
Also the all-time leader in attacks (4,526), Pintilie is third in LIU history in aces (170), fifth in blocks (213) and seventh in digs (990). A three-time All-NEC First Team selection, she earned NEC Player of the Year honors in 2002 and was the NEC Tournament MVP in 2004 after leading LIU to its first-ever conference title in the sport.
 
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A current Blackbird who appears to be headed toward Hall of Fame-type numbers is LIU senior Tyler Jones.
 
The Blackbirds’ catcher was among several LIU players mentioned when Collegiate Baseball released its conference-by-conference previews. Jones was named one of two Northeast Conference Projected Players of the Year along with Bryant’s Kevin Brown.
 
Jones batted an NEC-best .425 last season with seven doubles, four triples, a home run and 36 RBIs. The Blackbirds were predicted to finish third in the league and also saw five players mentioned on the Top Players to Watch list: senior shortstop Drew Walsh, junior right-handed starter Chris Franzese, junior left-handed starter Matt McCormick, junior closer Evan Zerff and junior transfer Chris Untereiner.
 
“He was the guy who stirred the drink for us,” LIU baseball coach Don Maines said of Jones, whom some presumed would be selected in last year’s MLB Draft. “He had a tremendous year and [has been] a tremendous player for our program.”
 
LIU, which went 28-23 last year for a 14-game turnaround from the 2010 campaign, will open the 2012 season on Feb. 17 with a visit to the University of Central Florida for a three-game series.
 
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Former St. Francis College standout Akeem Bennett, who spent last season with the Springfield Armor of the NBA’s Developmental League, has signed a professional contract with RSV Eintracht Teltow in Germany, according to the school.
 
Bennett was drafted by the Armor in 2011 after two very productive seasons for the Terriers following his transfer from Western Oklahoma State.  The 6-foot-3 swingman from West Hempstead averaged 14.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.6 steals per game as a senior and was a second-team All-NEC selection.
 
Perhaps most importantly, Bennett was named the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year.
 
“‘We think [Bennett] is a fit with all his training in the states and especially with his physical stature,” said RSV Eintracht Teltow coach Vladimir Pastushenko.
 
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Still seeking their first victory of the season, the NYU-Poly men’s basketball squad pushed Brooklyn rival St. Joseph’s to a tight game at the half before succumbing, 74-48, on Monday night.
 
The Jays trailed just 28-25 at intermission, but were thoroughly outplayed thereafter, slipping to a dismal 0-10.
 
Borough native Brandon Henry did his share to keep NYU-Poly in contention, scoring 15 points and pulling down 14 rebounds, but the Jays committed a season-high 30 turnovers. 
 
Freshman Thomas Fabian handed out a game-high five assists for NYU-Poly, which will be back in action Sunday at 3 p.m. against visiting Old Westbury.Freshman Thomas Fabian handed out a season-high five assists but NYU-Poly fell to 0-10 on the season Monday night.
 
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The NYU-Poly women managed only five points over the final six minutes during a tough 57-52 loss to CCNY on Monday.
 
Freshman Tabitha Larsen scored 15 points, including all five for the Lady Jays down the stretch, and handed out a season-high nine assists.  
 
Senior Margaux Pickell picked up her second straight double-double with 13 points, 16 rebounds and four blocked shots for NYU-Poly, which will visit Sage Colleges this evening at 6 p.m.
 
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Eddie Owens, the former Packer Collegiate High School track star now running for Prinecton University, did Brooklyn Heights and his nation proud this past weekend in Scotland.
On Saturday, Owens helped the Team USA Juniors to a first-place team finish in the 6K men’s steeplechase while coming in fourth individually with an impressive time of 20:08, behind only teammate Kirubel Erassa, and Kieron Clemens and Mark Shaw of Great Britain.

 

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The holiday season is behind us, but the season of giving continues for the St. Francis men’s and women’s basketball program. The Terriers will be sponsoring a three-part series to promote the NCAA’s Take a Kid to the Game initiative, the Remsen Street school announced this week.
 
The first event will take place on Saturday, when the Terriers host Fairleigh Dickinson in a Northeast Conference hoops doubleheader at the Pope Physical Education Center. 
Tip-off for the women’s contest is at 2 p.m. followed by the men’s game at 4:30 p.m.  Admission for kids is free.
 
The Terriers’ Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) will sponsor a wide variety of activities before, during and after the games. Take a Kid to the Game is a nationally recognized program that encourages adults to take children to collegiate sporting events as a way to introduce them to athletics and inspire them to pursue higher education opportunities.
 
The second and third part of the series take place on Feb. 4 and Feb. 18, when St. Francis hosts doubleheaders against the men’s and women’s teams from Bryant and Sacred Heart.
January 12, 2012 - 6:40am


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