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‘We’re in the entertainment business’: What’s in store for Miami men’s Basketball

<p>Miami basketball hopes to build on last season&#x27;s strong finish going into Travis Steele&#x27;s second year as head coach.</p>

Miami basketball hopes to build on last season's strong finish going into Travis Steele's second year as head coach.

Miami University’s men’s basketball team is just two weeks away from the 2023-24 season tip-off, and the coaches and players are combining forces to come back from last year's losing season. 

After going 12-20 overall and 6-12 in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) during the 2022-23 season, the team has some high hopes for this year. 

The season opener will take place on the road against the University of Evansville on Nov. 6. The RedHawks will see the floor in Oxford for the first time on Saturday, Nov. 11, at 11 a.m. against Texas State University.  

The RedHawks are looking at eight new players for this season, including five first-years and three transfers.

Head coach Travis Steele, entering his second year at Miami, says he’s excited for this year and sees all of the latest additions fitting the campus and basketball culture at the university.

“All eight guys bring attributes to our program, and I’m excited. They’re all different,” Steele said. “We brought in a lot more size overall and just athleticism and skill as well.” 

With the 2023-24 season comes a new standout player, one of this year's graduate transfers Bryce Bultman, a former McKendree University (Division II) forward. He averaged 15.2 points, 4.1 assists, and 6.3 rebounds during his prior four seasons, shooting almost exactly 50% from the floor. He’s started more than 100 games in his collegiate career. 

Bultman will bring leadership, skill, experience and passion to the university’s team. Even though it’s his first season at Miami, he was recently named a team captain.

Associate head coach Rob Summers described Bultman as a “Swiss army knife.”

“He does it all for us,” Summers said. “He’s been really great to have around the program as somebody who has played a lot of basketball and seen a lot. Being named team captain speaks volumes to his character and who he is.”

For Bultman, choosing Miami was a no-brainer. With similar coaching and play styles, he figured this would be the best program to pursue his graduate year, ready to lead the younger players by example.

“I’m hoping to win some games in our MAC tournament and make it to the NCAA tournament,” Bultman said. “I am looking forward to the experience of getting to know my teammates and playing basketball on a Division I team in a new conference.”

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Miami returns two of its top three players from last season, redshirt senior guard Morgan Safford and senior center Anderson Mirambeaux. 

The RedHawks have also brought in their best recruiting class in recent years, plus two transfers who shot more than 40% from three last season, junior guard Bradley Dean from Virginia-Wise University (Division II) and graduate wing Darweshi Hunter, the team’s other captain, from MAC rival Northern Illinois University.

Mirambeaux transferred in from Cleveland State University (CSU) before last season. After averaging just 5.5 minutes per game the season before at CSU, Mirambeaux had a breakout campaign in 2022-23, averaging 14.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game on 53.7% shooting. This year, his goals are similar.

“After last year, I just want to win,” Mirambeaux said. “I want to make it to the NCAA tournament. That's the goal … I want to get the best out of it, we’ve got great coaches and I’ve got great teammates, so let’s just get the best out of it and go from here.” 

Preparing for this upcoming season, things looked a little different for the RedHawks. At a team level and from a personal standpoint, players and coaches prepared somewhat differently to fix what failed them last year. 

For Mirambeaux, that meant working harder, buying into the team and consistently playing with more intensity. 

Steele and Summers expressed the importance of repetitiveness and bringing the competition, coming off of struggles with shooting last year. Although the RedHawks ended their season last year on a high note, winning four of their last five games to sneak into the MAC tournament, it was not quite enough to get them where they wanted to be.

“We have really addressed this in the recruiting piece,” Steele said. “If we’re going to be a good team, we have to be committed to the defensive end. I think if we can add the shooting piece with the defensive mentality we’ll have some really good results.” 

Finishing strong late last year has definitely amped up Miami’s confidence leading up to this season. For Summers, he thinks development will happen on a game-by-game basis with such a young team this year. 

The RedHawks plan to have a ten-player active roster going into this year with a strong mix of height and talent, from the inside and out. 

“Fans want to see the offense,” Summers said. “You want to come and be entertained. We are in the entertainment business. I think it’s going to be an exciting year as far as offensively what we will be able to do.” 

As the most winning team in MAC history, known for producing the most NBA players, the stakes are high this year and every year for Miami men’s basketball. The coaching staff and players believe this team will have what it takes to advance to where it wants to be.