Dan Oppland is a 35 year old 203cm forward that completed his 13 professional season and first season with the MLP Academics averaging 10,7ppg, 4,9rpg and 1,6 apg. He started his basketball career with Valparaiso (NCAA) in 2002 where he played until 2006. He started his professional basketball career in 2006 for Hanzevast Capitals Groningen (Holland). He then played in countries like Poland and Sweden before coming to Bayreuth in 2008. He then played for seasons four Allianz Swans Gmunden (Austria-A Bundesliga) where he won three titles. He also played for Namika Lahti (Finland-Korisliiga) in the 2013-2014 season playing 47 games averaging 15.7ppg, 7.9rpg, 1.5apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 54.2%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 72.0%. He played 119 games with Nurnberg from 2014-2018 and was able to improve his scoring average each season. germanhoops.com spoke to him after the end of the 2018-2019 season.
Dan thanks for talking to germanhoops.com. Where are you at the moment and how is basketball treating you at the moment?
Hey Miles. I am still in Heidelberg at the moment. Season just ended on Monday after a tough loss to Nuernberg in the playoffs.
What was the first eatery that you visited first upon arrival back home in the States?
Well I haven’t gone home yet, I won’t be going until the end of June, early July. But if I had to choose an eatery to visit as soon as I touchdown in the states, it would have to be Chipotle.
Congrats on the great season in Heidelberg. You were semi retired last summer, but latched on another season with Heidelberg. How special was this season for you?
It was a very special for me because I never thought I would be playing another season. It was a great experience and great season. Plus, my daughter was born here as well, which made it most special.
What kind of experience was it playing against your ex team Nurnberg Falcons and having to bow your hat to them? I can imagine that despite losing to them, it was one of the only times in your career where you were truly happy about the opponent winning.
It was an amazing experience to play against Nuernberg. The loss still hurts and will stay with me for a long time. I can’t sit here and say I’m happy they won, but I am very happy for Basti Schroeder, Ralph Junge and the rest of the organization for getting the opportunity to move up to the BBL. I wish them nothing but the best.
With what emotions did you say farewell to the season? On the one hand the team achieved so much, but on the other hand just missed reaching the final.
I am still very disappointed we didn’t get it done this year because I feel like we had the team to get it done, but that’s life sometimes. It doesn’t always go the way you want it.
You split the season series with Nurnberg and lost 3-1 in the playoffs. What is your semi-final playoff summary? I believe this is a series that many in Heidelberg will remember as being one where the Academics didn’t take advantage off enough
I felt like Nuernberg took advantage of our mistakes better than we did of theirs. We also didn’t protect our homecourt which is something you have to do if you want to win in the playoffs. Overall, I didn’t feel like we played a good series, and a lot of that had to with Nuernberg, so give them credit
I believe the turning point was game three. Heidelberg let that game get away. What do you feel really cost you this game the most?
After we took the ten point lead in the middle of the third quarter, we really should have put the game away there, but we didn’t. We let Nuernberg hang around and a few costly mistakes at the end of that quarter gave them the momentum they needed for the fourth. We also didn’t protect the three point line in the second half which really was key for them.
What did you respect the most about the Nurnberg Falcons this season? This is a team that nobody except people in Nurnberg would have had the audacity to proclaim months ago that they would move up.
I respect the way they fought and played together. You could tell this team had great chemistry. I credit a lot of that to Basti Schroeder, who is an amazing leader and captain. I’m sure he set the tone early in the season, which made it easier for Ralph and Vytautas to coach this group. Plus, the development of the young players was huge for this team.
Let’s talk about the whole season. The MLP Academics were 7-6 at the start of December. How vital was it closing out 2018 with that three game winning streak that included a big win against Hamburg.
It was very important because we seemed to find our identity during that stretch before the break.
You had two tough crunch-time loses to Trier and PS Karlsruhe at the end of the regular season. Were those losses like a blessing in disguise letting the team know that there was playoff business coming up. You easily disposed of pesky Ehingen by an average of 14 points in the three game series.
Those two losses were definite wake-up calls for us, and I think we really did a job of regrouping after that. We went into the Ehingen series with right mindset, knowing that their team was ready to play.
What really impressed me about the MLP Academics this season was their consistency despite not having a deep rotation like many other Pro A teams. What was the secret to the success and was there a special mentality that continued to grow during the season that allowed the team to be so successful?
Our team chemistry was instrumental to our success this season. We have a great group of guys who came in every day with the same goal in mind, and that was to get better. No one ever complained, it was always about business.
What made it so special to play for the MLP Academics Heidelberg for a second season? Did you notice that that the basketball culture is continuing to grow in there and that something special is happening?
I think here in Heidelberg is growing especially after the success of this year. Hopefully the momentum from this year can push the club to new heights next season and future seasons to come.k the culture
The MLP Academics had many season highlights. Was it possibly sweeping the Hamburg Towers or beating Chemnitz or was it something else?
Sweeping Hamburg and beating Chemnitz were probably two of the biggest highs in my book. Advancing to the semis was also a big deal since it had never been done in Heidelberg before.
One of the real great and seemingly underrated coaches in Germany is coach Frenki. Please talk about how important he has been to the new winning culture in Heidelberg?
Frenki set the tone for our season on the very first day of training camp. He has done a great job in Heidelberg and it was an honor to play for him this season. I wish him continued success in the future.
Let’s talk about your teammates. For many in Heidelberg Shy Ely was an MVP candidate. Most of the Pro A players I interviewed after this season stated as him being their toughest cover. How vital was he for the success of the team?
Shy was our guy this season. We relied on him heavily throughout the entire season. It was a pleasure to watch his approach to the game. He always brought it with a ferocious intensity and focus that you don’t see all the time.
Last year your teammate Jaleen Smith said this about Niklas Wurzner after being his teammate. ‘Nikki turned himself into the floor general of our team. If you watched our games, you can just see it. He’s going be really good in a year or 2 so be on the lookout for him. He just has a great feel for the game. He plays at his own pace and doesn’t let the defense dictate how the game going to be played. I feel his passing got more and more better as the season went on. More like his vision on the court was through the roof. He could see everything in front of him or behind him’. How did you see his development continue in your second year? How did you see his development grow this season?
Since this is my first year with the team, I can only say that Niki really developed throughout the entire year. That was evident in the passion he played with in the playoffs. I wish him nothing but the best in the future.
How vital was it having Jaleen Smith on the team for the success? In a very guard orientated league, he seems to get lost in the shuffle a bit. How vital was he for the success of the team?
Shy might have been our best player but I felt like Jaleen was our most important player because he did everything for us. It was amazing to watch his improvement throughout this season and to see the steps he made from last year. He has turned himself into a great player and it will be exciting to see where he ends up in the future.
Last season Jaleen Smith stated this about veteran Eric Palm. ‘It was great having Eric, he taught me a lot of stuff that I will carry with me for a long time. He didn’t just teach me shooting tips but more importantly he taught me how to move without the ball. Just learning when to cut on offense. Having him come in was such a joy and a great pick up for the team’. What new things could you soak up from him in your second season as teammates? What was it like having that second real experienced guy on the team? What special qualities were you able to detect in his game?
Eric and I really jelled from the onset. His knowledge and basketball IQ is as good as it gets. I really enjoyed discussing the game with him. You could see that on the court because we really played well together. He is a student of the game and l loved being his teammate this year.
How key was it having that added German veteran Philipp Heyden on the team. How did his 9 years of BBL experience show on the court best?
Phil is a beast, and he was huge for us this season. It is tough to find a player of his size and skillset, especially in the Pro A, so we were lucky to have him. I am happy he will continue his career in Heidelberg.
In our last interview you stated that you hoped people would remember how hard you worked and that you did everything you could to win. Did you know last summer that you would miss the game and day to day grind if you had really retired?
I didn’t know that but I think no matter when I stop, I will always miss those things, but like I have said before, you can’t play forever.
You turned 35 during the last season played lofty minutes and had solid stats. Did some of the older guys in the BBL like Ricky Paulding or the Jena trio of Mccelroy, Jenkins and Allen motivate you to continue? You are in your mid 30’S and still play like a 28 year old.
Haha, I appreciate that. When you see guys like that playing at such a high level, it does motivate you because if they can do it, why can’t I do it too? I never have looked at my age as a determinant of my playing because I still feel good. If I feel young, that is all the matters.
You averaged 10,7pp, 4,9rpg and 1,6apg. How content were you with your game this season?
I’m always content with my game because my approach has always been the same. As long as I am giving all that I can, that’s all I can ask of myself. I was happy with how my best play came in the playoffs this season. I tried to leave all out on the floor, so I was happy with that.
Obviously your experience is very key, but was there anything you did differently that helped Heidelberg this season achieve success that you didn’t have to do with Nurnberg the last seasons?
Not really. I feel like my approach was the same as it was in Nuernberg.
You had many great games during the regular season like your 16 point effort in the win over Chemnitz, but I can imagine your personal season highlight was giving your all and stepping up your game in the Nurnberg series.
Yeah, like I already said, I felt like I left it all on the line in that series, so I can be happy with that. But the frustration will stay with me for a while. I’m too competitive to forget about that series. It just hurts too much.
What is the next step for you? Are we going to do another retirement interview and then see you come back to play another season or do you see yourself really retiring?
I really don’t know at the moment what the next step is. I’m not going to give a retirement interview just yet, because I still need to sit down with my wife and decide what’s best for our family.
On what things will you be working on the lab this summer to continue to improve your game if you happen to decide to return for another season?
Like always, my 3 point shooting needs to get better. I will also continue to work on my athleticism and quickness.
Please name your five all-time best teammates in college and pro’s
Wow, that’s really tough. I’ve been privileged to have some great teammates over the years. My obvious number one answer would be my brother, Mike, but excluding him, here it goes:
Sebastian Schroeder, Braydon Hobbs, Jaivon Harris, Josh Young, Virgil Matthews.
It’s still so early, but when all is said and done could Luka Doncic be one of the greatest Europeans that ever played in the NBA?
After what he did in his rookie season, he’s on track to do some special things that we have never seen before.
What was your reaction when you heard that Lebron James named himself the greatest of all-time?
I understand where he is coming from, but I don’t agree on him saying that since no one before him as ever done that. To me, Mike is the greatest, but that’s just my opinion.
Charles Barkley recently proclaimed that Tom Brady Is more of a GOAT than Michael Jordan. Do you share his opinion?
Wow, that’s tough to say. They both are killers. I don’t know if I can say that. Can I put them both on the same level???
Tom Brady won sixth Super Bowl. Where will he be if he wins a seventh next season?
He will where he has been for the past few years, at the top of the mountain looking down at everyone else.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Thanks Dan for the chat.