October 2002 (v5 i2)
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Air Bud Recruited as New Point Guard for UT Men’s Basketball Team
Buddy the Dog brings celebrity, hope to campus
by Kristin Hillery, Staff Writer

Air Bud gets ready to ‘Shoot, Pass, Slam’
[illustration: Aaron Stanush]
CAMPUS — The departures of Chris Owens and Fredie Williams, two key players from last year’s men’s basketball roster who suffered season-ending injuries, left head coach Rick Barnes in the doghouse—that is until he stumbled upon the 1997 Disney classic Air Bud.

Buddy the Dog, known on the court as “Air Bud,” was recruited early last week to play as the point guard for the UT men’s basketball team this season. Enrolled as a biochemistry major and off-season member of the Roustabouts Dance Team, Buddy’s UT schedule already looks busy.

Coach Barnes felt that there was a need for a strong point guard in order to ensure that the Longhorns will capture a spot in the NCAA top 25 for the fourth straight year. Though the Horns are predicted to place among the top 15 this season, Barnes felt compelled to recruit a new player that would give his team that extra punch. After months of reviewing tapes of mediocre prospective college basketball players, Barnes felt like giving up in his search for the missing link. He decided to look at only one more tape, but to his surprise the VCR began playing Air Bud, the movie his daughter had been watching earlier that day. It was at this moment that fate intervened, and Barnes realized exactly what this year’s team needed. “Buddy is the next Bill Walton. He’s unbelievably talented, and to top it off, he has a seven-foot vertical. He’s doggone good!”

Air Bud’s addition to the roster resulted in a few issues the players are learning to deal with. A big problem faced by the team is Buddy’s temper, often set off by missing a free throw, getting fouled or hearing teammates call his mother a bitch.

“All I did yesterday during practice was tell him that his momma was so fat, when you get on top of her your ears pop,” senior forward Chris Blanchard said. “The next thing I know, he’s growling and biting my ass. He broke the skin, so I had to get a rabies shot.”

Despite the minor difficulties involved in playing basketball with a golden retriever, the other players agree that the benefits far outweigh the dog’s quirks that begruding acceptance can grow into love. Designating a special corner of the locker room for the three-year-old canine solved the early problem of Buddy marking his territory on the fresh towels that the players use post-shower. In fact, Buddy’s presence has been so influential that instead of sweat bands the players will all be wearing burnt orange flea collars.

UT’s first game will be played against Georgia on Nov. 15. Water boys have been instructed to prepare a toilet for Air Bud to drink out of during the games, and plenty of Beggin’ Strips will be kept on the sidelines for what Coach Barnes describes as “reinforcement purposes.”
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