Now that we have previewed the entire freshman class, we will begin looking at Michigan’s returning players starting today with senior Matt Vogrich.
6’4″, 200 pounds
Lake Forest, Ill.
Lake Forest High School
Small Forward, Power Forward (wing)
Career Highs: Points – 15, Rebounds – 6, Assists – 2 (4 times), Steals – 2 (3 times), Minutes – 23
Career to Date: Matt Vogrich came to Michigan after winning the Gatorade Player of the Year for Illinois in his senior year at Lake Forest High School, having broken former Wolverine Rob Pelinka’s school scoring record with 1,494 career points. He was touted by many as the best pure shooter in his high school class, but was also known as more than just that; he made headlines after competing with now-Illinois guard Brandon Paul in a head-to-head matchup and out-scoring him with all sorts of moves.
Nevertheless, Vogrich’s perceived place under John Beilein was to be a dead-eye shooter that would be deadly in Beilein’s offensive system. The first time he stepped on the court in a regular season game, Michigan fans’ collective jaws dropped to the floor as Vogrich put on a shooting display unlike anything seen before, going 5-of-5 from downtown to score 15 points in 13 minutes in a 97-50 blowout of Northern Michigan. A true shooter had been found. Beilein’s offense would flourish.
Vogrich has proven to be a good outside shooter
Unfortunately, the excitement didn’t last. Vogrich made only one of his next 15 attempts from behind the arc over a nine-game period and only six more total over the remainder of the season. Obviously his minutes were severely limited, and he did bounce back to shoot nearly 40 percent from three by the end of his freshman season, but he still has not emerged as that go-to shooter that Beilein can count on to consistently bury two or more threes per game.
With his senior season left, Vogrich has just one more year to leave his mark on the program. Will he become the sharpshooter that everyone saw three years ago coming into college, the guy that is looked to at the end of games to drain the three, or will his shooting percentages continue to drop as his minutes dwindle and Nik Stauskas takes over his spot in the line-up? All we can do is wait and see.
What He Will Provide:
1. Shooting: The scrawny shooter clearly has the pretty stroke to provide a scoring spark, whether that be from the starting five or from the bench. When Vogrich is feeling it from downtown, there are few shooters in the country that will make a higher clip of their deep shots. The rotation on his ball is a thing of beauty when his shot is on, and he can throw daggers left and right with his quick release.
2. Leadership: While Vogrich has never been an extremely vocal player on or off the court, he is perhaps the most experienced on the team, and at 22 years of age, Vogrich will need to help mentor his younger teammates and make sure that everyone is on the same page, even if he isn’t playing a ton of minutes. Beilein and the rest of the team will look to Vogrich and the rest of the seniors to help replace the leadership lost last season in the form of Stu Douglass and Zack Novak.
3. Hustle and Smarts: Zack Novak always got the credit for being the junkyard dog the past four years, and deservedly so. But when Matt Vogrich finds his inner energetic spark, he can turn heads himself with some “That was Matt Vogrich?!?!” plays. He is not a terrific athlete and certainly isn’t very fast, but Vogrich always seems to have a couple big plays every now and again that completely turn the tide of a close game, whether in grabbing a big rebound among the trees down low, poking a ball out from behind when least expected, or making a backdoor cut for an easy lay-in.
What He Will Have to Improve On:
1. Defense: The one player that has come the farthest in the last three years on the defensive end of the court? Matt Vogrich. The one player that has the farthest to go in improving on the defensive end of the court? Matt Vogrich. The first time Vogrich suited up in a Michigan uniform, in an exhibition game against Wayne State, Vogrich was crossed over and ended up on his rear out of bounds, resulting in both “oohs” and “ughs” in the stands. Since then, Vogrich has certainly improved on that end of the floor, but he still has a ways to go. Stu Douglass was one of the better man defenders in the Big Ten over the past couple years, and Vogrich will at least have to hold his own one-on-one against quick guards if he is to see consistent playing time.
The senior will need to continue to improve his defense
2. Handles: In high school, Vogrich was more of an all-around scorer than the stand-still shooter he often turns into on the court at Michigan. If Vogrich can improve his ball-handling, gain some confidence, and drive to the hole on occasion, he would help immensely. He often looks hesitant to put the ball on the floor even when he has a clear driving lane, but a couple quick dribbles to the hoop could collapse the defense or draw a trip to the charity stripe, which has been a foreign concept to Vogrich. In three seasons, Vogrich has shot only 21 free throws compared to 209 field goal attempts, good for an absolutely abysmal free throw rate of 10 percent. A reasonable jump up to 20-25 percent could do wonders.
3. Consistent Production: Want an interesting, and somewhat disappointing, stat? Matt Vogrich has never made at least one three-pointer in more than three consecutive games, and has only done that two times (both in his sophomore season). His best three-game stretch was going 5-for-6 in the non-conference season in 2010, and he has never made more than five threes over a three-game stretch, having done that just twice. Granted, this probably has something to do with limited minutes and inconsistent playing time from game to game, but Vogrich needs to prove that he deserves those minutes by scoring consistently before Beilein can give him the court time.
Burning Question: Will Matt Vogrich start?
There are a couple factors that go into this question, but it needs to be asked. Vogrich has never started a game in his career, but with the graduation of Douglass and Novak, two starting spots open up. One of those spots probably already has Tre Robinson marked on it in permanent marker, but the other is likely up for grabs among Matt Vogrich, Nik Stauskas, Jon Horford and Mitch McGary. Obviously if Beilein feels a two-big lineup gives Michigan the best chance to win then McGary or Horford will get that spot, but if he chooses to play small, Vogrich will need to prove that he deserves the spot over a threatening freshman. Keep in mind that the line-up will most likely change once or twice before Beilein settles on one for the majority of the season, but the opportunity is there for Vogrich. Will he seize it or let it slip?
Favorite Big Ten Opponent: Penn State – averages 3.3 points (6-of-14 FG, 5-of-12 3PFG. 3-of-3 FT), 1.0 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 0.3 steals, 0.3 blocks, 0.2 turnovers, 12 minutes per game
Going Forward: I actually have Matt Vogrich pegged into the starting two-guard spot at least to begin the season. Beilein has shown a propensity to play experienced players over freshmen early on and will likely put out his safest five at the start of the year. By the time Big Ten season rolls around I think we will have transitioned to a two-big starting lineup, but Beilein has never played that style before and will require some time to adjust to its quirks.
Stat Predictions: 4.3 points (44 FG%, 41.3 3-PT%), 1.5 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 0.5 steals in 13 minutes per game.