Catching Up with Men’s Hoops Alum Dan Wohl ’15 Now Playing Professionally in Israel

Dan Wahl '15 playing for Hapoel Galil Gilboaa in Israel
Dan Wahl '15 playing for Hapoel Galil Gilboaa in Israel

Dan Wohl '15 (La Cañada, CA) was an Economics and History major and three-year starter for the men's basketball program. He averaged 12.9 ppg as a junior on the 2014 team that made it to the national championship game and 10.1 ppg as a sophomore on the 2013 team that played in Salem in the Elite Eight.

Serving as a captain in 2015, Wohl led the Ephs in points (19.7 ppg), rebounds (8.6 rpg), blocks (19), and steals (23). As a result, Wohl was named to the All-NESCAC First Team, NABC All-Northeast Region Second Team, All-Northeast Region Second Team, First Team ECAC-New England, and to the Capital One Academic All-America Third Team. Wohl finished his Williams career with 1,278 points, placing him 14th on the Ephs' all-time list.

In July of 2015, he signed a two-year professional contract to play for Hapoel Galil Gilboa in Israel. Classmate and former co-captain Hayden Rooke-Ley '15 signed in August with Ramat Hasharon, also in Israel and is in the same league as Dan Wohl's team.

Give an update on how your team is doing. How much you are playing?

"My club is focused on returning to the First Division, where it's historically played until it was demoted to the Second Division last year. In order to get back there, we have to win the championship, which of course, every club in the league hopes to do. However, I've learned that not every club has a big enough budget and has spent enough money to acquire the talent thought to be needed to win a title. Supposedly my club is one of four in the league with the budget and talent to make a real effort to contend and earn a promotion to the first division. And so far, we're right in the mix. We're 7-2 and one game out of first place. I've been one of the first players off the bench, playing around 13-14 minutes per game."

2015-16 Hapoel Galil Gilboa Team Stats 

What it was like playing against Hayden's team?

"Playing against Hayden here has been pretty surreal. We're no strangers to competing with each other, since we did everyday in practice for four years. But it is bizarre seeing him in another jersey. Once I get into the flow of the game, I notice it less, and my competitive nature takes over. But when I'm on the bench, I sometimes find myself hoping his shots go in. Thankfully my loyalties haven't cost my team. I'm sure Hayden's going to be thrilled I'm sharing that my team has beaten his both times."

How many games in the regular season?

"There are two rounds of the regular season. We play each team in the league twice—once at home and once away—for a total of 26 regular season games before the playoffs. There's also a tournament called "The Cup" that involves all of the teams in the First and Second divisions and runs parallel to the regular season."

"We won our first round game of this tournament, and in two weeks, we play the second round game. In the second round, we drew Maccabi Tel Aviv, probably the best team in Israel and traditionally one of the best teams in the world outside of the NBA. Two years ago, they won the Euroleague championship when they were coached by David Blatt, the current head coach of the Cleveland Cavs."

Is the style of play in your league the same as DIII? Style not quality.

"Stylistically, the game is quite different. For one, it's much more physical. Some of that has to do with playing against grown men and generally older players. But the games are definitely officiated to allow this more physical style of play. There's also a lot of strategic intentional fouling, especially on fast breaks, to prevent offensive players from gaining any advantage that might lead to a basket. With the faster shot clock (24 seconds), the game is played faster and possessions often end up in pick and rolls. In DIII, many teams run more sophisticated and lengthy offensive schemes. But with the shot clock, teams here don't have that luxury. Due to these changes in style and level, my role is pretty different than what it was at Williams. I have the ball in my hands much less."

What is normal non-game day like as a professional hoopster? How much time do you spend practicing with the team, working out on your own? How often does the team practice?

"About half the time, we have two practices a day. The morning practice is light, and we usually focus on skill work, lifting, and shooting. A lot of my teammates complain about these sessions, but I actually find them helpful. After practice and lunch, I'll catch up on the news, read material for a course I'm auditing, send emails, or watch something. I'm also informally studying Hebrew and learning to cook. These large chunks of free time were at first a bit unsettling, but I've come to really value them as time to reflect, learn, and expand my boundaries. Then in the late afternoon, I go back to the arena to get ready for the evening session. The evenings are more demanding and lengthy. We watch film of our team or upcoming opponents before what is almost always a physically taxing practice that involves a lot of defensive drills and 5 on 5."

Have you traveled around Israel much without the team?

"I've been able to travel the country on off days or rare long weekends. I live in a small, remote town, but the country is so little that you can access almost any part in one day. My team of course travels around the country playing games. But without the team, I've been to Tel Aviv several times. I've also been to Haifa and Jerusalem. So far, the highlight was touring the Old City in Jerusalem and visiting the Western Wall, the remaining segment of the Second Jewish Temple built over 2,000 years ago."

Who are the other American(s) on your team?

"There are two other Americans on my team. Jason Siggers is a guard from Dallas who played collegiately at Albany. He spent the last eight years playing in various countries around Europe, mostly in France. Demetrius Treadwell is a forward from Cleveland who played at Akron. He played in the first league in Argentina last year before coming to Israel."

You were excited to go there to find out about your roots. What has been the most eye-opening experience since you've arrived?

"I think I've certainly become more acquainted with my Jewish roots through traveling, seeing sites, and attending various ceremonies and events. Since I'd never been to Israel before this year, I had some preconceived notions about Israeli Jewish identity, but I've been surprised and impressed by the diversity of Jewishness itself in Israel. I've also really tried to engage in the Israeli culture and regional politics. I take any opportunity I can to chat, eat, and hang out with people from the town I live in. Fortunately, almost everyone speaks English. Anyone who knows me well knows that I'm pretty inquisitive, so I ask lots of questions and hope people will speak candidly. Showing a desire to learn Hebrew has helped in this regard. The overriding topic that fills many of my conversations and consumes my thoughts is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I studied it in Professor Magnus Bernhardsson's course "The Modern Middle East", but there's no substitute for being here and experiencing it. It's fascinating and tragic."

Are you dunking in Israel as much as you did on your highlight tape? Just threw that in to make sure you were still reading.

"Funny. I'm not actually. I'm still recovering from a serious ankle injury I sustained while working out over the summer, so my athleticism isn't where I'd like it to be or where it was before the injury."

Are you following Duncan Robinson at all?

"I try to keep up with his games, and we talk pretty regularly. He's a very close friend. In fact, about a week ago, I was with Hayden and he FaceTimed with us an hour or two before we watched him score 17 points against NC State on ESPN. He's playing great and making our Williams program look good. Everyone in and around the program has known what kind of a player Duncan is and had high hopes for him at Michigan, but I don't know if anyone expected him to play as well as he has so far. He's put in a lot of hard work and taken his game to another level. He deserves his success as much as anyone."

Have you run into any other Ephs in Israel?

"Besides Hayden, I don't think so, though my girlfriend Maya Hart '16 is coming to visit next week."

Have you seen the Ephs play on the web? I know there is a 7-hour time difference.

"I definitely have. I think I've actually seen all of the games except for assistant coaches Brian Emerson or Mick Hedgepeth send me the film. I'm impressed with the team so far, and I'm really happy for head coach Kevin App and the guys for their strong start. Hopefully we can keep it up through NESCAC play and beyond."

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