In his first college basketball game, against Division II Northern Michigan, Matt Vogrich hit five three point shots, he was also crossed over several times and looked completely overmatched defensively. The latter turned out to be a much bigger factor in Michigan’s 2009-10 season. Vogrich seldom played after that first game, severely limited by his lack of quickness defensively, and made just six more three point shots over the next 31 games of his freshmen season.
There were serious concerns over whether Vogrich could play at this level, even as a shooter off the bench. In his sophomore season, Vogrich tripled his playing time and improved his shooting numbers, seeming to provide Michigan with an opportune boost off of the bench in several key moments.
- Three Point Shooting: Vogrich finished the season with a team best 38.7% three point shooting percentage on 62 attempts. He hit an even more impressive 48% of his triples in Big Ten play. Michigan seemed to run a number of sets designed to get Vogrich open shots and by the end of the season he was knocking them down with consistency.
- Back door cuts: Zack Novak is probably the best Michigan player at throwing the back door pass, but Vogrich is the best at making the cut and getting open. This is a natural relationship because defenders have to respect Matt’s three point shooting stroke. He’ll improve finishing inside the arc as he gets stronger but he still made a respectable 51.7% of his twos.
- Energy: Matt first showed the ability to inject energy off the bench during his freshmen year during a home win versus Ohio State. He demonstrated a similar quality this season and it’s no surprise that he was frequently featured in our Five Key Plays pieces. It wasn’t just hitting threes, Matt came up with some big jump balls, rebounds, steals and other energy plays as well.
Room for Improvement
- Ball handling and passing: Vogrich began the season playing almost exclusively at the three position but, as the season wore on, he began to spend time at the off guard as well. He’s not a great ball handler, which makes facing pressure defense a chore, and he rarely creates for others. His assist rate (percentage of U-M field goals that he assisted while on the court) was just 6.1%, which is closer to Jordan Morgan’s (4.9%) assist rate than players like Evan Smotrycz (8.1) or Zack Novak (8.7).
- Quickness: Vogrich is still a liability defensively against quicker guards. The problems might not be as dramatic as a year ago and he has certainly improved, managing to keep most players in front of him, but he is still a liability defensively.
Shining Moment: 11 points (5-5 fg), three rebounds and one steal in NCAA Tournament win over Tennessee. Vogrich spearheaded a first half run that earned Michigan a small halftime lead before the Wolverines were able to break the game open in the second half. Video.
Vogrich proved that he can come off the bench and hit open threes. He’s far from a perfect player, and he’s probably only capable of doing half of the things that Tim Hardaway Jr. can do at the same position, but he fills a specific niche on the offensive end. Michigan is able to run a variety of sets for him when he’s in the game and if he ends up with an open look, there’s a good chance it’s going in.
With two freshmen guards arriving in Ann Arbor this summer, there has been heated debate over Vogrich’s role on next year’s team. There is certainly a log-jam developing in the backcourt – Morris, Burke, Douglass, Brundidge, Novak, Vogrich and Hardaway all play the 1-3 positions – but Vogrich has some distinguishing traits. First off, he’s able to play two positions, the two and the three, while most of the freshmen will likely be groomed into specific roles. That versatility coupled with his shooting ability should guarantee that he finds some minutes somewhere. It’d be crazy to expect Vogrich to play more minutes next season, but I don’t see why he can’y play a similar 10-15 minutes per game off of the bench.