New hoops set to bolster Corn Palace basketball practices
The Corn Palace has always been regarded as one of South Dakota’s best basketball venues.
Earlier this week, the arena got better as a practice facility, too.
The Mitchell landmark now has two additional practice baskets that were recently installed after being approved in October by the Mitchell City Council at a cost of nearly $73,000. The project was over the $60,000 budget, but donations helped cover the difference. The arena now has four basketball standards, all of which are lowered from the arena’s ceiling.
A plan for new baskets was endorsed by the basketball coaches at Dakota Wesleyan University and Mitchell High School, whose teams play home games in the arena but also prefer to hold practices there, as well.
But holding a practice with dozens of players and only two baskets to shoot at becomes difficult, MHS boys basketball coach Todd Neuendorf said.
“It’s a great place to play a game but when we came in to practice my first year, I said, ‘Where are the rest of the baskets,’” said Neuendorf, who will lead the Kernels for his fourth season next winter.
Corn Palace Director Doug Greenway, City Council member Kevin McCardle and Mayor Bob Everson lowered the baskets for a demonstration for The Daily Republic and local basketball coaches on Wednesday at the Corn Palace.
The baskets will extend down from the roof, and lower into position at a right angle. The standards are in place in front of the Corn Palace’s famous theater seating on the west end of the building, but will be raised out of sight when it’s game time.
"When I was watching a college basketball game at the Sanford Pentagon, I noticed how they had side hoops and thought we could do something similar at the Corn Palace," McCardle said. "When I talked to the Dakota Wesleyan University and Mitchell High School basketball coaches they were all on board, because they know how challenging it can be to practice with just two hoops. But now they got four."
Neuendorf said his Kernels typically didn’t practice free throws at the Corn Palace because he said 20 players shooting on two hoops is not the most effective way to practice. The boys basketball program already was using the upstairs armory gymnasium for the Kernels’ freshman teams.
“I think the important part of having a quality practice is having a lot of reps, and when you have four baskets compared to two, that’s just that many more reps you can get in,” said MHS girls basketball coach Cole Knippling.
Knippling pointed out that practicing at the Corn Palace is generally a plus because the building has a college-sized court that is 94 feet long by 50 feet wide. The general high school court ranges from 84 to 90 feet and can be potentially shorter in older, smaller gyms, with that length commonly taken out between each 3-point arc.
“We end up being a little more prepared, and maybe in a little bit better shape when it comes to games because we’ve practiced with that longer court,” Knippling said.
McCardle said new standards being installed have once again shown the level of support among citizens for basketball in Mitchell.
"Seeing the support from the community and donors who helped pitch in to get the two hoops installed was an example of how Mitchell comes together for a sport many people in the town love," McCardle said.