The phrase “Shooter’s mentality” gets tossed around a lot in basketball circles.
Some players use it as a metaphor for having a short memory.
Coaches often use the term when referring to a player that has a fearless approach to shooting the basketball.
For Iowa junior sharp shooter Melissa Dixon, “Shooter’s mentality” is just another way of saying “Be confident.”
“Having a shooter’s mentality is just all about confidence,” Dixon said. “It’s really just focusing on that shot, not worrying about if maybe you missed four or five before, but just knowing that the next one is going in.”
Dixon put her shooter’s mentality on full display in Iowa’s NCAA Tournament first-round win over Marist on Sunday.
The junior guard was held scoreless in the first half, as two fouls limited her to six minutes of action.
Dixon shrugged off the slow start, hitting 3-of-4 second-half 3-point attempts on her way to 12 points as all five Iowa starters reached double figures.
“She wears that shooter’s mentality so well,” junior point guard Sam Logic said of Dixon. “She knows that at any time she can spark our team and we all know that she can spark our team.”
Dixon, who ranks fifth all-time in program history with 209 career 3-pointers, helped Iowa to its best shooting performance of the season in Sunday’s 87-65 win over Marist.
The 5-foot-9 Dixon finished 4-for-7 from the field Sunday as Iowa shot a season best 57 percent from the floor.
The Hawkeyes were 12-of-25 from beyond the 3-point line and 8-of-12 from 3-point range in the second half.
No. 19 Iowa (27-8) will need to keep that hot shooting going Tuesday night when they face fourth-ranked Louisville (31-4) in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
“Perimeter shooting is a key every single game, and especially tomorrow night it’s going to be a key,” Dixon said Monday. “It just helps us get going and it’s one of our big strengths so it’s important for us to come out hot.”
Five different Hawkeyes hit a 3-pointer Sunday, but any conversation about Iowa’s perimeter shooting starts with Dixon.
The Johnsburg, Ill.,native leads the Big Ten and ranks 13th nationally in made 3-pointers with an Iowa-record 96 this season.
Her 96 3-pointers this season have moved Dixon just 52 treys away from Lindsey Meder’s career-record of 251.
“I’ve just continued to work on my shot ever since I’ve been here,” Dixon said. “I’ve just tried to make as many as possible.”
Long known as a shooter, Dixon has worked on her all-around offensive game as a junior.
Dixon is Iowa’s second leading scorer at 13.4 points per game and is also a 90 percent free-throw shooter.
“What Melissa really added to her game over the summer was the ability to penetrate,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “When people are really trying to take the 3-pointer away from her, she can put the ball on the floor. I think she doesn’t want to be known as just a shooter even though what she can do shooting is unbelievable.”
For Dixon, who estimates she takes more than 500 shots a day during the offseason, the shooter’s mentality has been a key to her success.
In a December win over Syracuse, Dixon missed both of her field-goal attempts in a scoreless first half before exploding for seven 3-pointers and 27 points in the second half.
The junior has matched the school-record of seven 3-pointers one other time this season.
“You know at any time if she makes one she can go on a tear,” Logic said. “We believe in her so much, we have so much confidence in her that I honestly think that every shot that she takes is going in.”
Dixon has made at least two 3-pointers in 29 of 35 games this season including a current stretch of 12 straight games.
She will attempt to keep that streak intact Tuesday night against a Louisville team that ranks 26th nationally against the 3-pointer, holding opponents to less than 28 percent shooting from behind the arc.
“It’s important that we shoot the ball well because, to me, when our offense becomes stagnant we get a little tight, our team gets tight,” Bluder said. “When our offense is flowing, that’s when we relax and have fun and it gets better and better and better, and you see more energy on the defensive end.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes women's basketball