ZH: Tell us how and why you came to play basketball so late at Leavenworth, and what sports were you into before you started playing hoops?
DH: I was a real late-bloomer in basketball. I liked the sport but I did not get a chance to play in Jr. High so I did not tryout again until I was a soph. By then, I had reached a point physically that made up for lack of skill. Before basketball I was a football player and that was my first love. I started when I was very young and did very well as a defensive end. In fact, both my basketball and football coaches told me to play football in college!
ZH: Describe your recruitment for us, what your first impressions of Fitz were like and what made you choose Gonzaga.
DH: I was such a late-bloomer in basketball I was not recruited by a lot of 4 year schools out of high school so I choose to go to Spokane Community College and play for Sam Brasch. That was a great decision and it really worked out for the best. I was able to get the great teaching and quality playing time that I lacked in high school and it made a huge difference in my game, as well as my charactor as a person. Gonzaga had always inpressed me as such quality school and a great tradition on the hardwood that I really could not see any other options that stood out for me. There was a lot of interest by other schools but I could not consider another program but the Zags. I liked Fitz a lot when I first met him. He was very serious about how he ran the program and that impressed me. I was, however, first recruited by Jay Hillock. Fitz became the coach after my redshirt year.
ZH: What was a memorable game for you personally, a game that Zag fans may not suspect was special but it was for you.
DH: My last game as a Zag! We played Peppedine at home to start the first ever conference tournament. We had just beat them in Spokane the week before to finish the conference and they had to come back and play us on the road. We got the Jim Harrick coaching clinic that night. He put a box-and-one on Jim McPhee and we were all out of our game plan from the start. I did play very well as we stumbled through just making it up as we went. The game was close down to the last shot but we lost. It was special to me because I was my last time on the GU court and I was going out with a 110% effort. I was crushed by the loss but happy that I did all that I could for the team.
ZH: You played in the era of Paul Westhead's run-and-gun teams at LMU. What was it like to playing against them and do you have a colorful story to relate about a GU-LMU game?
DH: The LMU games were so much fun. We would run our offense and then when the shot would go up you had to sprint as hard as you could to the other end if you wanted any chance at all of stopping them from getting an easy shot off. We were so tired at the end of those games and absolutely dehydrated. A great story goes with the 1986-87 season. We had just lost a close game to Pepperdine down there in a very high scoring game. I was very frustrated and as we sat in the locker room Fitz came charging in and informed us that we could not win a 100 piont game against a girls team and that we had better learn how to play defense. [Laughs] The next night at LMU we won 122-120 in overtime in one of the most memorable games ever.
ZH: Describe your game for those who didn't see you play, plus how big you were, how tall, etc., and how do you compare yourself with current big men at Gonzaga.
DH: My game was very much a physical power game. I used my athletic ability to move guys or to out-jump them. If I had to compare myself to a current big man I would have to say a Casey Calvary. He is a few years ago now and much better then I was by far but, that style of play. The coaches said that they compared him to me for his first couple of years.
ZH: What was the highlight and the lowlight of your basketball career at Gonzaga?
DH: I would say that my highlight was being named WCC Player of the Week for the St. Marys-Pepperdine series. I had 36 pts and 24 rebounds in the series. The lowlight would have to have been the loss at home to Central Washington. We stunk it up and they were a pretty good team but I would rather have been gut shot and left in the desert than to lose to those guys.
ZH: What teammates or college buddies do you stay in touch with, and what was the most important thing you took away from your years at GU?
DH: I have stayed in touch with Nick Zaharias and Roger Bock. I left with a very stong sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that I had the tools and abilities to succeed in life. I knew that all the hard work on the court and in the classroom had built a charactor in me that I had not expected. I think that is one of the great GU traditions.
ZH: As you watch Mark Few's Zags play nowadays, do you see any similarities to your teams under Fitz in the late-80's, early 90's? What are the similarities and differences?
DH: It's really hard to compare the teams I played with and those of today! They do run the old flex offense from time to time and that really brings back old memories. Mark's teams are so athletic and deep. We had a lot of good players from year to year but now there are great players who can play with the best in the nation. Mark has an outstanding coaching staff and they really get the guys prepared for every game.
ZH: What did you major in at Gonzaga and what are you up to these days, your job, hobbies, etc?
DH: I majored in business and worked in the financial field for awhile but my adventureous heart lead me into work on Tug Boats and I have been working on the Columbia River near Portland, OR., for the last eight years. I love to restore old wood boats for a hobbie! It is really hard to find time to do that with a young family so I just work around the house. My main objective in life is to be the father and husband that God asks me to be. I am also very involved at our church, I lead the men's ministry and teach Bible classes as time permits.
ZH: Tell us about the Haaland family.
DH: My wife Robyn ('88) and I have been married for 16 years and have been living in North Idaho for the last 13. We have 2 boys Josiah age 4 and Noah age 2. We are expecting a baby girl in Feb. We are so excited and so blessed to have such a great family. Robyn is a stay at home mom and is working towards her MA in math.