2012-13 Player Preview: Matt Vogrich

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During Matt Vogrich‘s sophomore campaign, the 6-foot-4, 200-pound shooting guard improved in nearly every area of the game. Vogrich played more minutes, scored more points, made more threes, and even grabbed more rebounds during his sophomore season. He seemed to be progressing as an offensive spark off the bench, a knock-down shooter who could also surprise in other areas of game in limited bursts. There was a feeling that Vogrich was on his way to being a solid, consistent contributor to Michigan’s lineup as his progression continued.

But last year, Vogrich experienced the opposite of his 2010-11 season. The Lake Forest, Illinois native regressed in nearly every statistical category, including minutes and the all important three point shooting. There seem to be a couple possible reasons for Vogrich’s regression. One is that opposing teams undoubtedly keyed on Vogrich defensively while he was in the game. It was possible to take him out of games simply be denying him open threes and opponents took advantage. Another reason for his regression last year was the unavailability of playing time. Vogrich spends his time at the two or three positions and Stu Douglass, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Zack Novak accounted for nearly all of the playing time at those spots.

Fortunately for Vogrich, it appears he’ll have a good shot at significant playing time this season. With Novak and Douglass graduated, he will be competing for minutes with  Tim Hardaway Jr. and incoming freshmen Glenn Robinson IIINik Stauskas and Caris LeVert.  It’s probably safe to pencil in Hardaway for 35 minutes per game but whether those minutes come at the two or the three remains to be seen. Assuming the Michigan coaching staff gives the benefit of the doubt to the senior over the freshman, especially early, Vogrich should have plenty of opportunity to prove himself as a reliable contributor at the two guard spot. Whether or not he can secure solid minutes the whole year will depend on three factors: whether or not he can knock down open looks, his on-ball defense and the play of Nik Stauskas.

Reasons for Excitement

  • 3-point shooting: This is always near the top of the list when it comes to things to like about Matt Vogrich. The senior’s shooting touch is undeniable, even after he experienced a significant drop in 3-point shooting percentage last year (from almost 40 percent in 2010-2011 to just over 30 percent in 2011-2012). With more playing time, it’s likely Vogrich will have a better chance of finding the shooting rhythm that so eluded him last season. It will be up to Michigan to get Vogrich open looks, which the coaching staff has generally been able to do when he’s on the floor. It will be up to Vogrich to knock them down. One reason to believe he will? The relative randomness of 3-point shooting percentage by year. For comparison, consider Zack Novak’s 3-point shooting percentage from 2009-2010 (30 percent) and 2010-2011 (almost 40 percent). Vogrich is a knockdown shooter, and chances are he’ll figure it out.
  • Team depth and skill around the rim: As has been already well-documented, Michigan has added some serious talent in the post for this season. Freshmen Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III will undoubtedly make an immediate impact in the post. That, combined with solid contributions from the veteran Jordan Morgan, should open up plenty of opportunities for Matt Vogrich from range. In Michigan’s pick-and-roll system, the added skill in the paint will mean more perimeter defenders drawn to the inside to help, which means more open looks from 3. McGary’s passing instincts are well-known, and he will always have a safety valve on the perimeter should he encounter a double-team down low. Vogrich should be able to knock down those open looks in his sleep.
  • Basketball IQ: Vogrich has always been adept at getting open buckets within the offense. Because he is known as a shooter, defenders often overplay him on the perimeter, which he has consistently taken advantage of through back-door cuts. Vogrich seems to have an excellent handle on exactly how he is able to score on any given possession. Little plays like back-door cuts, being in the right spot for a loose ball or hustling to an extra rebound can be the difference between winning and losing and Vogrich has shown a knack for making those plays in limited opportunities.

Causes for Concern:

  • On-ball defense: There’s no getting around it: Matt Vogrich is a defensive liability. If Vogrich doesn’t log starter minutes this season, the reason will most likely be his inability to stay in front of Big Ten-caliber guards. This isn’t to say Vogrich is a horrible defender overall; he actually has a knack for stripping the ball and being in the right place to provide help. He just doesn’t possess the quickness required to stay in front of the Keith Applings of the world that will be required to play the two in Michigan’s offense.
  • Diversity of skills: Despite having just talked about Vogrich’s back-door cuts and rebounding, the fact is that he remains mainly a shooter. This is what was expected when Vogrich joined the team, but if he wants to solidify consistent playing time then he has to find something else to contribute to the team besides shooting. There has to be another reason the coaches want to keep him on the floor, especially considering his above-mentioned defense.
  • Nik Stauskas: Stauskas is probably going to be Matt Vogrich’s main competitor for playing time this season. The bad news for Vogrich: the kid is good. Stauskas is a consensus top-100 recruit, he has more size (6-foot-6 vs. 6-foot-4) than Vogrich and has demonstrated a phenomenal shooting stroke at the prep level. If Stauskas’s shooting stroke translates as advertised, it could be tough for Vogrich to secure significant playing time once again.

Outlook:

The table is set, perhaps more than at any other point in his career, for Matt Vogrich to make an impact. There’s a real opportunity for the senior to be more than just a sharpshooting microwave off of the bench. Whether or not Vogrich is able to seize this opportunity depends on a few different factors: the development of Nik Stauskas, the consistency of Vogrich’s shooting and whether or not he has improved his defense. Vogrich will most likely continue to play at both the two and three. If Vogrich doesn’t land the starting shooting guard spot, he will most likely continue in the role he’s had the past three years.

Even if Vogrich settles into a microwave role off of the bench, his senior season could still be a success. Every team, especially one coached by John Beilein, has a spot for a knock-down shooter off of the bench. Moderate increases in playing time combined with a dramatic increase in three point shooting accuracy would give John Beilein a valuable player to call on throughout the year.

Bottom Line

It isn’t likely Vogrich will suddenly turn into the kind of player who can give you 30 solid minutes every game. What is far more likely: Vogrich will continue to contribute points in bunches off the bench, and have a much easier time doing so with the new weapons that will be surrounding him. With the offense guided by sophomore point guard Trey Burke, along with the talent in the post, Vogrich will get plenty of open looks from range. I anticipate his 3-point shooting percentage will return to its 2010-2011 form (flirting with 40 percent) and that he will provide Michigan with a consistent offensive spark.

  • Steve2081

    Vogrich is not going to be playing the 2. His handles have been non-existent for 3 years. His defense is also better against bigger players than it is against quicker guards.

    • http://www.umhoops.com/ Dylan Burkhardt

      Almost always going to refer to positions in an offensive context. For example, if you have Vogrich at the two and Robinson at the three, Robinson could guard the opponents’ two if they are a faster player but Vogrich would still play the two offensively.

      Also, Vogrich has played the two on and off throughout most of his career.

    • gpsimms

      he’s better at the 2 than hardaway. he looks less lost with the ball in his hands than hardaway. he’s less likely to turn the ball over in transition then hardaway.

      yet, for some reason, everyone assumes hardaway is going to log most his minutes at the 2 this year.

      • Steve2081

        Probably because Hardaway himself said he’d be playing the 2.

        • gpsimms

          I’ll believe it when I see it against a conference opponent.

          • michaelg

            Reggie Miller didn’t have great handles. Killer 2. Just catch and shoot baby.

      • geoffclarke

        Part of that reason is Hardaway has said it while Beilein has hinted at it, or at least saying he’ll play 2 bigs a lot more, and I’m not sure how that can not mean Hardaway getting way more minutes at the 2 than he has.

        • gpsimms

          I don’t doubt that they’ll tinker with it. But I’ve seen Timmy attempt dribbling in traffic for two years, and one was after an offseason of hard work with his dad on ballhandling (so they said). I am not convinced he will improve significantly in that area.

          I think, then, that if the two big experiment works and carries over to conference play, that that lineup will simply cut into Timmy/GRIII’s time at the 3, not move (Timmy, at least) down to the 2. I don’t think that GRIII can shoot well enough to log a lot of minutes at a small position, so basically I think a 2 big lineup will just mean less pt for GRIII.

          Anyway, like I said to Steve, I’ll believe when I see it with regard to Timmy handling the ball against a conference opponent. Hopefully he’s improved tons and I am wrong.

          • geoffclarke

            I don’t think anyone is saying that the reason Hardaway might play a lot more 2 is because he handles like Keith Appling, or even Brandon Paul. I think it’s just that I tend to not dismiss so quickly what Hardaway and Beilein say, especially when I can convince myself that Hardaway at 2 might be the best option for the team as a whole. But like you said, the proof will be in the pudding. It might be that we do play Stauskas at 2, Hardaway, at 3, and Robinson at 4 and only 1 big because that proves to be our best lineup. This is exactly what I thought originally. I think we can all agree that we have some options and no matter which way it goes, we’ll be good.

          • Steve2081

            I don’t disagree with what you’re saying about Timmy. His handle definitely needs a bit of improvement from last year for him to be a really good 2.

            But I just don’t know how Vogrich is a better option or what you’re seeing when Matt has the ball. I see a kid who can’t do anything with the ball in his hands but a few token dribbles on the perimeter before he has to pick it up. Hardaway can at least get to the hoop on a semi-regular basis.

          • gpsimms

            I guess I just think that Vogrich has more offensive skills than people give him credit for. He’s shown some burst/athleticism in surprising spurts.

            He’s just gotta defend.

          • Steve2081

            Well we’ll just have to agree to disagree for now and I’ll hope you’re right and I’m wrong about this one. :)

          • Mattski

            Timmy’s still only a junior. Let his development surprise you. I like him slashing to the hole if he can hang onto it! In some of the summer vids Trey Burke looked like he was really picking it up in that dept., too. Stretch the court, threaten from anyplace on the court, fly to the hoop. . .

  • geoffclarke

    Wishing Matt a very productive and successful senior season! I can easily see him going back to his sophomore numbers. He will be pushed by Stauskas, for sure, and my optimism for this season depends on Stauskas playing as well as most expect. I could see Stauskas getting 20mpg and Vogrich getting 15mpg, but not vice versa.

  • GregGoBlue

    In regards to this discussion about Vogrich vs. Hardaway’s handle to log minutes at the 2, I wouldn’t be surprised if Stauskas had the best handle of the three (of course, I’ve only seen the kid play on youtube, but still). The area in which I think Stauskas really needs to prove himself to log serious minutes over Vogrich is on defense, where hopefully his length will be an asset.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marqus-Luther-Sheen-Jr/100001373095199 Marqus Luther Sheen Jr.

    since matt vogrich signed ive always been a big fan of his..I think for a team to be great they certainly need there fair share of role players..Ive always expected matt vogrich’s role to be a dead eye shooter that comes off the bench..I have a hunch that this year ol matty vee will finally fill his role..if not, then this year he’ll be on the end of a somewhat deep bench..

  • section13row15

    My gut feeling is that geoffclarke is absolutely right. The predominant lineup you’ll see out there is going to be burke (1), vogrich/stauskas (2), hardaway (3), gr3 (4), and Morgan (5). Also, I’m wondering if we play more 1-3-1 defense this year which Vogrich has been very good at during his career. It will only help his playing time.

  • Wayman Britt

    Vogrich will probably start early in the season and get some minutes, but by Big Ten season time I see him coming off the bench. I do agree his 3 pt percentage will increase this year.

    • Steve2081

      I think he’s coming off the bench by the time we play Slippery Rock.

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