Robot Rodeo: Ron 5 travels to Houston

Following last year’s NCAA Division I men’s Basketball Championships, junior guard Ronald Nored had surgery to correct stress fractures in both knees. The surgery was successful, but left Nored with metal rods in each leg.

But the rods did not hinder his play, rather they accentuated his robot-like defensive stance and wiry movements on the court.

Midway through 2010-11 conference season, a Butler student took on the persona of the cyborg Nored, better known as Ron 5 Robot.

The robot quickly became an unofficial mascot of the Bulldog basketball team and can even be seen in a video alongside Butler Blue II and Hink. The Ron 5 Robot Twitter account has upwards of 550 followers to date.

To protect his anonymity, I conducted an entirely electronic interview with Butler’s beloved mechanical mascot. After carefully interpreting the binary code, here are his responses.

Lance Rinker: You’ve become an unofficial mascot and a staple of Butler basketball. The burning question is in regard to your creation. Who built you?

Ron 5 Robot: First off, I don’t think we need a mascot—the team’s play is plenty entertaining. But some human fans who were inspired by Nored’s game and bionic body created me back in early February to honor him and his teammates, and it’s been a wild ride since.

LR: What was the reaction inside Hinkle Fieldhouse when you made your inaugural appearance? Did fans confuse you with Nored the human?

R5: Mostly it was what humans have described to me as “confusion.” They weren’t sure what I was, but they knew they “loved” me. Several pictures were taken.  I took a picture with my human counterpart after the game, and quite honestly, it is very hard to tell the two of us apart.

LR: What could the human players learn from you to help on the hardwood?

R5: I’m probably more stylish than any of them (except Matt [Howard], of course, and [Brad] Stevens with his glasses), but I don’t think they need any basketball tips from me. I’ll let Matt, Andrew [Smith] or Khyle [Marshall] borrow a jet pack here and there to take us to Slam Jam City, but other than that, it’s all them.

LR: What was your favorite moment of Butler basketball this year?

R5: I’m not a time-traveling robot, but I can tell you with certainty that my favorite moment hasn’t happened yet. I think all of us—bot and human alike—are going to know it when we see it. However, my human counterpart’s four consecutive free throws against Florida in overtime surely made my head spin with excitement.

LR: How did you react to each of Butler’s first two NCAA tournament wins?

R5: Both wins nearly caused a total meltdown and definitely resulted in some metal frame damage—these Dawgs aren’t for those with faint motherboards. I celebrated with some human fans in person and through my Twitter account and threw back a few pints of ice cold motor oil. And, of course, I did a little robo-boogie on the D.C. metro.

LR: What was going through your mainframe when the Bulldogs advanced to their second consecutive Final Four?

R5: Even a bot as advanced as me had a tough time comprehending such an amazing accomplishment. I know the human players aren’t satisfied yet, though, and my calculations show that even more awesomeness awaits us in Houston.  I have informed my human Twitter followers that Butler is undefeated (9-0) when I am present at the games, so hopefully my trip to Houston this week will yield success for the Dawgs.

LR: Are you at all concerned with going through airport security en route to the Final Four?

R5: Well, technically, my laser eye and lock-down defense capability make me a weapon of mass destruction, so that might be somewhat of an issue. But there’s nowhere for TSA to pat me down, so that’s a big relief. Some of my friends at NASA might be able to open a landing pad for me, so I might just jet pack in on my own—it’s more my style anyway.

LR: Rumor has it that wool will be a plenty in Houston. Do you see those interfering with your hardware?

R5: I’ve received upgrades throughout the year, and I don’t anticipate any mechanical issues. I will, though, blow a circuit if we have anymore late-game heroics. I am more worried about overheating in the hot Texas sun more than anything, but I am getting additional upgrades this week in order to prevent any heat related malfunctions.


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