Michigan guard Matt Vogrich is the Wolverines merry good-shooting jokester
Melanie Maxwell I AnnArbor.com
CHARLOTTE — Matt Vogrich walked outside his hotel room in Ann Arbor over Christmas break and couldn’t really comprehend what he saw.
Post-It Notes. Covering his 1996 Ford Explorer.
Staying in a hotel with the rest of the Michigan men’s and women’s basketball teams because dorms were closed on the Michigan campus, there were ample opportunities for boredom and pranks, the latter of which fits Vogrich well.
He cleared off the Post-Its necessary for him to see out of the car to drive and left the rest in place.
Months later, they are still there, falling out of his glove compartment and still attached to part of the interior.
“They were all over,” junior guard Stu Douglass said. “And then Matt thought it was cool so he just kept them up there.”
Soon, opponents might want to Post-It a defender to Vogrich.
Playing with more confidence than ever and with his shot feeling stronger than ever, he has emerged as a clutch shooter off the bench for Michigan. His 11 points on Friday sparked a Wolverines’ run in their 75-45 win over Tennessee in the Round of 64 in the NCAA tournament that broke open the game.
Consistently playing 11 to 13 minutes per game during the second half of the Michigan season, he has started to show promise. In his small spurts in games, he’d make a big 3-pointer, grab a rebound or make a steal.
He’d also be valuable so he didn’t present a drop-off when he replaced freshman star Tim Hardaway Jr., Douglass or Zack Novak.
He’s become, in some ways, Michigan’s bench spark after it moved Douglass into the starting lineup in place of Evan Smotrycz on Feb. 9.
“Last year there is no way I would have scored inside at all,” Vogrich said. “I was strictly a shooter. This year, there has been ups and downs, different games I contributed and (Friday) was the peak of that.”
After the game, Vogrich didn’t come off as excited. Part of that comes from the confidence he now has in himself — something he has built over the past two years. Part of it comes from his personality, which very rarely shows agitation except when he threw a golf club after scoring an 11 on a par-4 while golfing this summer.
Those outbursts are few, instead using sarcasm and a small bit of prankster to get under his friend’s skin.
In seventh grade he told his friend, Duke's Todd Zafirovski, he’d give him $10 if he took a full swing during miniature golf to hit the ball onto the highway in Kenosha, Wis. Zafirovski accepted, swung and ended up hitting a woman in the head with the ball after it caromed off a rock.
Vogrich ran. Zafirovski, mortified, went to the woman and apologized.
“To this day,” said Zafirovski, a sophomore forward, which faces Michigan in the Round of 32 on Sunday. ”He won’t let me live that down.”
All of this is just part of his nature as one of Michigan’s eccentric personalities. But the Wolverines, many of whom have their own quirks, accept it.
He fits in.
And he’s playing as well as he ever has as a spark off the bench.
“That’s what I wanted to do when I wasn’t starting in the beginning of the year,” Douglass said. “We look forward to someone giving us a spark off the bench like that. That’s what we’re hoping on.”