Quinnipiac's Peter Kiss (left) and Mikey Dixon. - Graphic provided by Quinnipiac Sports Information.
Quinnipiac craves points from Mikey Dixon when he enters the game. Scoring buckets gives Dixon a shot of energy. Early in their freshman season, Dixon and teammate Peter Kiss have provided an offensive spark and sent a jolt of optimism into the program’s future.
Dixon is averaging 12.9 points per game, shooting 46 percent from the field and 42 percent on 3-pointers. Kiss adds 11.7 ppg on 44 percent shooting. Each has been named MAAC Rookie of the Week as the Bobcats have navigated a challenging schedule with a 3-6 record that includes splitting two conference games.
And they’ve improved on offense since last year when poor shooting and sloppy ball handling produced inconsistent scoring and a 9-21 record. The Bobcats have increased their points per possession from 0.90 to 0.98 thanks to the two freshmen, who join forward Reggie Oliver (12.1 ppg) as double figure scorers.
Dixon, a 6-2 point guard from New Castle, DE, comes off the bench to play 22.3 minutes per game. He’s been remarkably productive and efficient during his time on the floor.
“If I can see that first or second shot go down in the hoop, it just gets me going,” he said.
After two solid games to open his college career, Dixon struggled against bigger, stronger opponents from Gonzaga and Seton Hall last month in the first two games of the Advocare Invitational in Florida. A scoreless eight-minute outing against Seton Hall prompted a meeting with coach Tom Moore, who told him to forget about it and remain confident. Dixon answered and responded, pouring in a season-high 21 points to lead Quinnipiac to an upset of Indiana State.
“Coach told me to lock in and be aggressive, that I wasn’t going to see too many other teams that talented or that size,” he said. “I came came back and there’s been no looking back from there.”
That’s the truth.
Dixon has scored in double figures in all five games since. In the last three games, he’s averaged 16 points on better than 50 percent shooting, dished out 13 assists and committed only two turnovers.
Peter Kiss, on the other hand, scored 37 points in the two games against Seton Hall and Gonzaga. The 6-5 wing was arguably the team’s best player during the Advocare Invitational. His performance there opened a stretch of six consecutive games scoring in double figures.
“The older guys have helped me understand the speed of the game, when to make plays and when not to,” Kiss said. “They talk to me about staying composed and really working on my game.”
Along those lines, Kiss tries to log extra hours in the gym, honing every aspect from ballhandling to shooting to finishing around the rim.
“I thought the college game was going to be really fast and I was right,” he said. “But the consistency needed to be a good player, you have to show up every day and work at it.”
Kiss, a New York City native, spent last season at Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts.
Dixon has an offensive rating of 114.4 which is second in the MAAC, placing him ahead of more heralded veterans like Justin Robinson of Monmouth and Jordan Washington of Iona.
The veterans on his own team, in particular senior shooting guard Danny Harris, have helped him make a smooth transition from high school to college.
“I’m learning more, understanding the game better,” Dixon said. “I want to be the point guard the leader of this program one day and they talk to me about being a leader on and off the court.”
Both players could see their role expand as Quinnipiac enters the MAAC, where Monmouth and Iona appear to be the favorites. Contending for the top tier becomes a more realistic goal next season, perhaps, but the early performance of Dixon and Kiss on the perimeter gives the Bobcats plenty of reason to believe they’ll move up the conference ladder eventually.