ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Neuendorf well respected by peers

Todd Neuendorf learned a thing or two coaching under Derek Robey and that's why when their teams played, it was like looking in a mirror. "I have to kind of laugh because whenever we played Roncalli, it's like we are playing a scrimmage squad," R...

Newly hired Mitchell Kernel boys basketball Coach Todd Neuendorf speaks during quarterback club on Wednesday night at The Depot. (Matt Gade / Republic)
Newly hired Mitchell Kernel boys basketball Coach Todd Neuendorf speaks during quarterback club on Wednesday night at The Depot. (Matt Gade / Republic)

Todd Neuendorf learned a thing or two coaching under Derek Robey and that's why when their teams played, it was like looking in a mirror.

"I have to kind of laugh because whenever we played Roncalli, it's like we are playing a scrimmage squad," Robey, a Mitchell native, said. "They run the exact same things that we do."

That should be music to the ears of Mitchell fans as Robey has built Sioux Falls O'Gorman into a Class AA basketball powerhouse. The Knights have won six state titles in the past 12 seasons.

Neuendorf, named the Kernel boys basketball coach on Monday, will be tasked with returning Mitchell to relevance in Class AA hoops. Those closest to Neuendorf said he is the right man for the job.

"He understands the rich tradition of Mitchell Kernel basketball and he will be tireless in his efforts to return that program to its glory days," said Hub City Radio News/Sports Information Director Dave Vilhauer, who covered Neuendorf during his 11-year tenure at Aberdeen Roncalli.

ADVERTISEMENT

Neuendorf turned the Cavaliers into a Class A power. Roncalli qualified for seven state tournaments and won the 2015 state title under Neuendorf.

Neuendorf takes over a program that went winless last season at 0-21. The Kernels haven't qualified for state since 2012, which was legendary coach Gary Munsen's final season.

"It is a program that has been struggling recently, but has great tradition and it is a good opportunity for him to come in and put Mitchell back in state contention and one of the top programs in the state," Chamberlain coach Adam Nelson said.

Neuendorf and Nelson locked horns when their teams faced off in some memorable battles between Roncalli and Sisseton. The teams played in the regular season and more times than not, they met again in some classic region titles.

"We broke each other's hearts back and forth here and there," Nelson said. "We had great overtime games. We won some, lost some, but overall, it made each team tougher and each person a better coach."

That's why when Nelson took the Chamberlain job in 2014, he wanted to get Aberdeen Roncalli on the schedule to help prepare his team for the postseason.

"It is guaranteed that his kids are going to play hard," Nelson said. "They are going to play defense. They are going to do things right. That's what he did at Roncalli to make the kids in that program such a strong program and a statewide contender."

Prior to making the Cavaliers a statewide contender, Neuendorf was an assistant coach at Aberdeen Central. He worked under Robey, former boys coach Terry Small and current girls coach Dawn Seiler for the Golden Eagles.

ADVERTISEMENT

"He is top-notch," Robey said. "He does it for the right reasons. It's all about the kids. He is going to put the kids first in the program. That is just the way he is. He is very passionate."

Robey was influential during the hiring process. The two coaches weighed the pros and cons of the position, while Robey also wrote a letter of reference for Neuendorf.

"When I got that letter of reference and I said in so many words, 'If coach Neuendorf really wants this job, you cannot hire him fast enough,' " Robey said. "I am telling you, 'Get him in here and have him sign the dotted line because you will not find a better coach.' He is very knowledgeable. X's and O's wise, I would put him right up there with anybody."

In addition to his ability to draw up plays and game plan, Neuendorf is a master at scouting.

"Coach Neuendorf's greatest asset is his attention to detail," Vilhauer said. "He always finds a way to play to his team's strengths and the opposing team's weakness. His preparation for each game is some of the best I have ever seen and it didn't matter if he was playing an opponent 20 miles away or 200 miles away, he always had a game plan in place that would allow for his team's have the best opportunity for success."

Robey said Neuendorf will be gunning for immediate success with the Kernels.

"He knows it might be a rebuilding type of a job," Robey said. "But he is not planning on rebuilding. He loves to win and that is what is cool about it, he didn't take the job just so he could try and rebuild it here in five or six years. He is trying to be successful right out of the gate and he will work hard."

Related Topics: KERNELS
What To Read Next
After taking down Sioux Center on Friday, the Marlins stumbled against Aberdeen, dropping the contest on the road Sunday.
On Saturday, the Marlins fell to Sioux Falls-1, before defeating Sioux Center on Sunday.
Prep basketball action from around the state for Saturday, Jan. 28.
SDSU men blow 22-point lead in loss at Western Illinois