Tutu catches Niagara’s eye
Munis Tutu (5) has been a nice addition to the roster of the Niagara River Lions. BPSN Photo
Munis Tutu parlayed a strong first season overseas into a summer job with the Niagara River Lions of the Canadian Elite Basketball League.
“I had a pretty good individual season in Germany this year and I think the (Niagara) coaches kept tabs on me while I was over there,” said the 25-year-old, who averaged 16.6 points, 2.4 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game with Ehingen Urspring. “A month after I got home, Victor (Raso) and Antwi (Atuahene) contacted me and we talked for a few weeks. We came to a decision that it would be a good move for me to come to Niagara.”
It was an easy choice for the Windsor resident.
“I know Vic (head coach and co-GM) and he watched me play over the years when I was at Carleton and he was always around for alumni things. Also seeing Antwi (the River Lions’ head of basketball operations and co-general manager) around when I played with Ottawa for the BlackJacks, I saw how professional it was in Niagara and how much fun it was for the players.”
He has been with the team for a month and is enjoying the experience.
“This is probably one of the most talented teams that I have been on and that is something I am really happy about after not being on a great team in Germany,” he said. “I am getting to learn from all the older guys on this team and guys my age who have played overseas as well. I am really liking it.”
He is working hard to carve out a role in the River Lions rotation.
“Since I have been here, my role is to come off the bench bring energy, make a real impact on defence and from that I can make my defence transition into offence and that will help me make plays and shots.”
The two-time USPORTS national champion with the Carleton Ravens is off to a great start with Niagara.
The former Team Canada member at the Canada at the Commonwealth Games and World University Games is averaging 8.8 points, 21 minutes of playing time, 2.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.3 steals per game. He leads the team in steals per game and is second in assists per game.
He is living up to Raso’s description of him as a talented and disruptive point guard. He relishes that role.
“It is being a nightmare on defence, getting into guys, jumping to the ball, making hustle plays and rebounding,” the former Loyola Marymount College scholarship player said. “It is stuff that a lot of people probably don’t want to do but it is something that I enjoy doing; getting into guys and frustrating them.”
He is working hard to improve his game in the process.
“This year was my first year overseas and year by year I want to continue playing in better leagues and hopefully I will be back playing in Niagara for years to come.”
He feels his one year in Germany helped him become a better player.
“Going into my first year, I wanted to be a solid shooter. I feel a lot of people thought that was a weakness in my game. That was something that I really focused on. I shot about 36 or 37 per cent and I am trying to keep it in the 40s and hit some threes.”
His next step as a player is more of the same.
“I want to continue being a solid shooter and become a great shooter. I feel that will open up my game for more shots because I am a really quick guard.”
This season is Tutu’s second experience with CEBL play. Tutu, who played eight games for the Ottawa Blackjacks in the 2020 Canadian Elite Basketball League Summer Series, scored six points Monday night as the River Lions dropped a 79-77 decision to the visiting Edmonton Stingers at the Meridian Centre.
Niagara grabbed quarter leads of 27-22, 45-39 and 54-53 before Edmonton rallied for the victory in the final quarter.
Top performers for Niagara were: Phil Scrubb with 21 points; Khalil Ahmad with 13 points and eight assists; Alonzo Walker with 10 points; A.J. Davis with eight points and six boards; and, Daniel Walden-Mullings with eight points and nine rebounds.
Top scorers for Edmonton were Brody Clarke (18), Jordan Baker (11), Freddie McSwain Jr. (11) and Adika Peter-McNeilly (11).
Niagara (3-2) hosts the Newfoundland Growlers Friday at 7 p.m.