2011-12 Player Preview: Matt Vogrich



The differences between Michigan and Tennessee were striking as both teams ran onto the floor at Time Warner Cable Arena for their round of 32 NCAA tournament game last March. The Vols were markedly bigger and stronger at almost every position. As Michigan struggled with Tennessee’s size and athletic advantage early, missing 12 shots in the first eight minutes and falling behind by a four point deficit that felt larger, it was Matt Vogrich that arose as the unlikely hero. The 6-foot-4 skinny sophomore with floppy hair  checked into the game and provided Michigan with an immediate shot in the arm.  He scored on an array of three pointers, backdoor layups and fast break steals while keeping Michigan afloat in the first half. That was enough to get the Wolverines to the second half where they went on to dominate the game.

When all was said and done, Vogrich’s season high 11 points in that NCAA victory left Michigan fans wondering what the junior guard could be capable of in the future. He was shooting the ball with confidence, finishing around the basket and finally showing signs of being the player many expected out of high school.

The backcourt is crowded and no one is quite sure where Vogrich will fit into the lineup but if he can provide the sort of energy and shooting ability he showed against Tennessee, there’s little doubt that John Beilein will find a spot for him on the court.

Reasons to be optimistic

  • Three point shooting: As a freshman, Vogrich barely proved he had the ability to shoot at the Big Ten level as he made just 11 threes during the season with five coming in the first game of the year versus a Division 2 opponent. As a sophomore, Vogrich got a few more attempts and shot the ball well. He hit 39 percent on the season but a more impressive 48 percent (12 of 25) in Big Ten games.
  • Length and Added Strength: Vogrich gained 15 pounds this offseason and reports that he’s up to 200 pounds. That’s a pretty significant gain and could be a huge boost toward competing on the glass and around the basket. At 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds Vogrich finally has some size to use to his advantage. He’s never been a great rebounder or defender but he should improve in both of these departments and has shown a knack for playing the top of the 1-3-1 defense in limited spurts.
  • Back-door cuts and finishing: The backdoor cut is one of the simplest plays in basketball but when it’s run to perfection, a beautiful thing to see. For Vogrich, the play is effective because of his shooting ability — defenders often play up on him to defend against the three. But when they creep up too far, Vogrich will jab step toward the ball and then sprint toward the hoop, creating just enough space for the guard up top to slip him the ball for an easy two. His finishing ability improved by almost 10 percent between his freshman and sophomore seasons and with his added strength this offseason, he should have no fear going into the lane.

Reasons to be skeptical

  • Quickness: Vogrich isn’t speedy and he can be a defensive liability against smaller and quicker guards – especially in a man-to-man defense. He showed improvement defensively last season due to his experience but he’s never going to be a lock down defender.
  • Finding the open man: Vogrich hasn’t shown the ability to create for others. When he’s not shooting, he’s not having a large impact on the game offensively. His assist rate was just 6 percent and he only used 13 percent of Michigan’s possessions while he was on the floor. He spreads the floor well, and has shown the ability to cut back door, but he needs to grow within the offense as more than just a shooter this season.
  • Playing Time: With a logjam at the 1-3 positions, Vogrich’s role on the team remains foggy. The development of Burke, Brundidge and even Smotrycz or Bielfeldt (pushing Novak into the backcourt) could block Vogrich from earning any significant additional amount of playing time.

Bottom line:

This season will be critical for Vogrich’s development. He could be Michigan’s best option off the bench, or he could slip farther down the lineup if Brundidge and Burke demand more playing time. He’ll have every opportunity to fight for playing time but he has to continue to shoot the ball consistently while diversifying his game.

Vogrich played both the two and the three last season which should help maximize his opportunities in various lineup combinations. He’s the most natural candidate to back up Hardaway at the three position but minutes at the two position might be harder to come by. Novak, Douglass and Brundidge will all be fighting for minutes at the two despite all having the possibility to play elsewhere.

At the end of the day there are two primary scenarios that would enable Vogrich to increase his playing time this season – he elevates his game significantly or Michigan’s freshmen struggle.

Bottom Line: John Beilein needs shooters and Matt Vogrich is the the most proficient returning three point shooter. That fact alone will earn Vogrich an opportunity this season and if he’s hitting shots then you can bet that Beilein will find a way to get him a few more shooting opportunities.

Whether it was the Tennessee game last year or against Ohio State as a freshman, Vogrich has proven that he is comfortable coming off providing energy off the bench. While you can’t quantify energy on the statsheet, you can expect improvements in other statistical areas – Vogrich’s scoring output should jump a couple points to around five points per game and his three point shooting should see a rise above 40 percent.

  • sane1

    Vogrich reminds me of ND’s 2 guards under Mike Brey. He would run tons of plays for those guys who were lights out shooters. Unfortunately, Matt won’t be playing that big a role in our offense, which is more diverse in emphasis and in terms of who does the scoring. But I like Matt’s ability to come off the bench and knock down shots right away, and his hustle plays have been very valuable in tight games. 

    • Vogrich could easily see a big increase in minutes as a senior. Novak and Douglass graduate and Hardaway *could* jump to the league. Michigan’s incoming wings are good but they won’t be experienced and Vogrich should have a nice opportunity. 

      • q-sac

        what league

  • Mattski

    Would Bielfeldt be a target for redshirtting? Don’t see him at the two, but might make a nice change of pace from Hardaway. Fun guy to have out there, hope he remains lights out. 

    • Sven187

       Huh? Max is a big he won’t ever be anywhere near the 2 or the 3.

      • Sven187

         Never mind I figured out you were talking about Matt with that second part. DERP!

        • Mattski

          Yes, I was not very clear there. 

    • YpsiTuckyBoy

      Max won’t redshirt. Redshirting takes up a roster spot for a year and typically coaches only use one when the prospect has a higher ceiling down the road. I think with Max, what you see is what you get for the most part. He’s not a Ekpe Udoh type raw athlete that you’re going to teach fundamentals to over the course of that redshirt year.

  • Champswest

    I see Vogrich as the primary backup at the 3, thus he should see ample playing time.

  • UM Hoops Fan

    Not worried about Matt’s playing time.  He averaged 14 mins a game last year, probably a bit more toward the end.  Darius left 35 mins, Stu could play a few minutes less. Sure, Novak might play a few more backcourt minutes, but I am quite confident JB will find 15 mins a game for Matt, at the least. 

  • mitch

    I really see Vogrich as a wild card on this team.  If he can come in a be a lights out 3 point shooter, he could really help us win alot of games this year.  Sadly, I would be suprised if he has a big impact.

  • KingLouie

    Matt will be “The Michigan Microwave” coming off the bench.

  • ForeverBlue

    I think the kid has a little swagger and attitude that began to emerge last season.  If the added strength helps him get a little bit more done on the floor I expect his confidence will rise along with his shooting percentage.  I think something (like the complete offensive scheme, not just his own role) will click with him this year and he’ll be a weapon off the bench, tormenting opponents with easy scores (backdoor cuts or open threes) and coming up with a key steal or rebound. 

  • deSal

    i thought vogrich rebounded well for his position? didn’t he lead the team in a rpg in europe? and i think he had a few 4+ rebound games.  i am basing this off absolutely nothing, just thought and faded memory

    • Bluebufoon

      I admire Vogrich, he could of given up or sulked, when he didn’t earn immediate playing time, matter-a-fact I may have written him off at the start of last seasob but the kid continues to scrap for his minutes and he continues to make solid contributions to the team–Vogrich is a winner.

    • Tserfix

      I thought he had a good nose for the ball also. ven if he did not get the rebound he seemed to keep a lot of balls alive so someone else could grab it. I like his play a lot.

  • Brian

    Jeff Goodman of CBS attended practice and tweeted the following 

    “Watched Michigan practice. Came away EXTREMELY impressed with freshman point guard Trey Burke. Knows how to play and can really shoot it.”

    • Kenny

      need more of this. When are they going to appoint the official tweeter?

  • Bill

    Matt really showed improvment in making strong moves towards the basket. Most of his time at UM he was just waiting for standing jump shot. If he can keep being more agressive I could see him in double figures more than his first 2 years,

  • Tyson

    I think he has potential to make a bigger impact this year…
    btw I’ve been playing around with such a cool website for basketball related people the last couple of days itsmyplay.com

  • Thechosenone

    vogrich was a good rebounder for his size last year so i disagree with that assessment. Also, I’ve heard through the grape vine that he has been lights out this preseason

  • Kenny

    I won’t be surprised if Vogrich becomes our best option at 2 guard by end of the season. 

    • Bluebufoon

      Any other tidbits from the grape vine ? On Horford , Bielfeldt , Brundidge or Tummala ?

      • Dgray

        I am hearing rumors that the Coaching staff believes that Brundidge is the best on ball defender on the team. I am also hearing that he has the quickest first step on the team and he is doing things that many of his teammates can not.  This is what I am being told that the coaches are saying.

        • Guest

          This is why CB will find ways to get on the court.  He’ll be the instant offense for Michigan with his athleticism and strength.  He’s built like a tank which allows him to absorb hits from shotblockers and still finish.  As long as he can take care of the ball, he’ll be on the court.

        • Mattski

          Dunno why, but I have loved this kid from the first. I really hope that this is true. 

      • JBlair52

        I watched a practice and Tummala is definitely athletic but not much of a shot or handles.  Reminds me of Colton only not as strong. 
        Bielfeldt is better than I thought.  Solid player but behind Horford, Smotrycz, and Morgan in the post.  Should develop into a nice role player in his last couple seasons.  Horford has added weight and is a legi 6’9″.  He really wants to learn.  Constantly asking questions to the coaches.  Morgan and Smotrycz are definitely ahead of him but he’ll be ready to contribute behind these two guys.
        Brundidge is quicker than I thought and uses his body against other Michigan players when he attacks the hoop.  Also a better shooter than you’d think. Also looked a little taller than Burke (some thought CB was 5’10” )

    • gpsimms

      i think the kid is more athletic than most give credit for. he was able to run with Tennessee.  he’s got some speed and some explosion and some ups. 

      but if he wants to become our best option at 2, he’s got to be a million times improved on d.  hope he is.

      • Bluebufoon

        Great info on Brundidge. Don’t know how there is significant playing time for everyone including  Burke, Brundidge, Vogrich, Douglass, Hardaway and Novak.

  • WingedKnight

    Today is Matt’s birthday!

  • Mattski

    Hey Dylan, 
    I was just looking at Michigan’s hoops schedule, and I appreciate that the TV venues for the games were also listed. With many of us now watching on our computers and phones (just discovered espn3 is on my smartphone), I was wondering if you could make a place for those listings too, in previews or wherever? We can all help each other anyway, as in years past, but this is something mgoblog (posters and mods) now regularly provides, could make you that much more indispensable.  

    You could be way ahead of me on this. . . 


    • I usually list ESPN3/etc when I post the “Basics’ on each game preview.