By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
LIU-Brooklyn Director of Athletics John Suarez on Monday released the names of the six new members of the Downtown school's Athletics Hall of Fame.
The members of this year’s class were chosen by a committee of current and former administrators, faculty and staff. This year’s group of inductees includes Dave Masciale (Men’s Basketball), Nick Megaloudis (Men’s Soccer), Leo Merson (Men’s Basketball), Fred Munsch (Swimming), James Ruocchio (Baseball) and Ivana Vasiljevic (Volleyball).
The 14th Hall of Fame class will be recognized at halftime of the men’s basketball game against Robert Morris on Saturday, Feb. 2.
“We are very excited to be inducting a class of extraordinary individuals into the LIU Athletics Hall of Fame,” Suarez said. “This group of inductees embodies the great athletics tradition of LIU Brooklyn and it is a pleasure to honor their accomplishments and contributions.”
Masciale was the heart and soul of LIU’s men’s basketball team from 1993-97, guiding the Blackbirds to the NCAA Tournament in 1996-97 -- their last appearance prior to the reigning two-time NEC champions.
One of only six players in NEC history to record 1,000 points, 500 assists and 250 rebounds in a career, he finished his four years in Downtown Brooklyn as the fifth-leading scorer in LIU history with 1,501 points. Masciale's assist total of 504 ranked second in the LIU record book following his tenure, as did his 219 three-pointers made and his 202 steals.
Megaloudis was a two-time All-American and captain for the Blackbirds’ storied men’s soccer program. His standout play as a two-way player in the midfield also earned New York State and All-Met honors. He scored five goals and registered three assists in 1976, helping LIU Brooklyn to a 10-win season and an ECAC Tournament title. In 1977, Megaloudis captained the Blackbirds to an NCAA Tournament berth and a 13-2-2 overall record. Megaloudis would go on to play professionally for a number of years in the United States.
Merson was an integral part of LIU’s unparalleled success in men’s basketball in the 1930s. He helped the Blackbirds to a 77-5 record over his three seasons, including a perfect 25-0 campaign in 1935-36, culminating in a mythical Eastern Championship.
Munsch was one of the top swimmers in the nation from 1959-62. As a sophomore in 1959, he competed in the Pan American Games and a year later missed a spot on the 1960 Rome Olympics team by one-tenth of a second, finishing third at the U.S. trials.
Ruocchio was an extra-base hit machine during his three seasons with the LIU-Brooklyn baseball team. A three-time First Team All-NEC pick, 21 of Ruocchio’s 41 hits as a sophomore went for extra bases, including 12 home runs. Ruocchio led the nation with 21 doubles as a junior, and his .424 batting average ranked 16th in the country. He was selected in the 24th round of the 1991 MLB Amateur Draft by the then-California Angels.
Vasiljevic helped propel LIU Brooklyn’s volleyball program into elite status, directing the Blackbirds to back-to-back NEC titles as a junior and senior from her setter position. The all-time leader in assists at LIU with 5,826, she holds the top four single-season assists marks, including the single-season record of 1,594 in 2002.
The latest class of inductees joins 84 individuals and three teams that are permanently enshrined in the LIU Athletics Hall of Fame on display at the entrance to the Wellness, Recreation and Athletics Center.
Ashley Palmer and the LIU-Brooklyn Blackbirds are doing what great players and title-hungry teams do as the regular season winds down.