- Chris Dzombak/Daily
BY ZAK PYZIK
Daily Sports Editor
Published January 31, 2011
Michigan men’s basketball guard Matt Vogrich is 27 minutes away from doubling the amount of time he played all last season.
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And the Wolverines still have at least 10 games remaining.
The sophomore’s role in Michigan coach John Beilein’s scheme has evolved to make him where he is one of the team’s main contributors off the bench.
On a team with no seniors and three freshmen starters, it is no surprise that younger players are expected to contribute a lot. But it is surprising that one of the athletes doing so much is the second-smallest player on the team — standing at 6-foot-4 and weighing 190 pounds.
“I don’t know if you noticed, but I’m not one of the biggest kids out there,” Vogrich said. “So sometimes I have to get scrappy to get to the ball or to get a rebound. Those are the types of things I work on at practice too, just finding the ball.”
Hailing from Lake Forest High School in Illinois, Vogrich tallied 11 3-pointers for Michigan last year. This season he has already netted 18 and is shooting at a consistent 39 percent from beyond the arc.
With freshman Tim Hardaway Jr. starting the entire season at the three-guard position, it has been Vogrich has come in for Hardaway Jr. when he's needed rest or is in foul trouble. Being smaller than a lot of his defenders, Vogrich sports a striking resemblance to teammate Zack Novak, who had the same issue playing as the four in the post last year.
Novak — best known for his hustle plays that aren’t recorded on the stat sheet — has been one of the Wolverines top defenders. Vogrich has demonstrated the same type of hustle on the court as Novak — several times this season he has dove for loose balls and fighting for possession with players much larger than him.
“Zack (Novak) is just one of those guys who work hard every play,” Vogrich said earlier in this season. “How can I not try to play like him? He put’s 110 percent into everything that he does and I’m just a lot like him.”
This year, Vogrich has eight steals and a block — already more than what he had last year in both categories.
Given Beilein’s strategy, Vogrich is normally on the hardwood to take advantage of any open looks he gets on the perimeter — the reason 47 of his 66 field goal attempts are 3-point shots.
But every now and then you’ll see Vogrich do something out of the ordinary. Vogrich averages about two rebounds a game. Arguably his most impressive stunt was against Northwestern, when he came from 3-point land to tip in a bricked shot before it rolled off the rim.
After the game, Vogrich explained how he executed the quite-impressive put-back.
“It was just a good bounce so I just hit it with my right hand and it rolled off the glass,” he said.
This type of hustle followed other plays by Vogrich which have shaped games. Against Penn State, Vogrich hit a 3-pointer about five minutes into the second half to tie the game after the Nittany Lions led by as many as nine points. On the next possession, Vogrich stole the ball and that possession propelled the Wolverines to its first lead of the second half.
"It definitely started with Matt Vogrich," Novak said after the Wolverines win against Penn State. "He comes out, we had just scored a bucket, he comes back, gets a steal right away. That’s the kind of energy plays we need. Just huge play from him. I don’t know. We had a lot of people step up."
Vogirch has been a spark off Michigan's bench all season. The energy that he brings to this youthful Wolverine squad is something that was otherwise absent last year.