Mysterious Memphis trainer Frank Matrisciano continues to be the secret weapon for a Tigers team that already features energetic coach Josh Pastner, former McDonald's All-Americans on the roster, and even a celebrity assistant coach in Luke Walton.
Matrisciano hasn't done interviews or shown his face to the media while at Memphis, but the talk from the players is that already the trainer to the stars has changed the team's identity with his methods.
"With Frank, it's definitely a mental toughness," junior Drew Barham told The Commerical Appeal. "I think when the game gets tougher we'll definitely be more mentally prepared to get through it [whereas] times last year we kind of collapsed."
If there was offseason buzz about Matrisciano's hiring and preseason talk of his influence on Memphis, expect the intrigue to grow if the Tigers follow through with a deep NCAA tournament run.
Stories continue to come out about Matrisciano as his role has emerged from the shadows of training pros in San Francisco to now being a part of a high-profile program.
Former Stanford guard Dan Grunfeld profiled the Memphis trainer on SB Nation Tuesday, writing about how as a family friend who has trained as a college and pro player with him, Matriciano is a one-of-a-kind character who turned him into one of college basketball's most improved players.
Frank is a character, perhaps even a cartoon character, and he's a funny story waiting to happen. He's the guy who once met me in Las Vegas, and showed up in the lobby of our hotel an hour after he landed, carrying only a backpack, his face red and his clothes sweaty. He decided to squeeze in a workout by running from the airport to our hotel on The Strip instead of taking a cab. Jogging for miles along the highway in Vegas in the million-degree heat is very clearly not a normal thing to do, but that's just Frank.
He's a nut, but if you buy into what he does, he will almost certainly transform your body and mind. He's been doing the type of things now seen in popular programs like P90X for close to 30 years. He's ahead of his time, and while he'll bust your butt to get you in shape, he'll also change your nutrition and teach you important mental discipline. He's someone who once finished the majority of a 10-mile sand run with a stone in his boot, digging into his foot with every step, while wearing an 84-pound weight vest, just to prove that he could do it. He knows a little something about mental toughness, and despite all that I've said about him thus far, he's really not as crazy as the persona suggests. He can definitely be terrifying to those who don't know him, and his intensity has been known to overwhelm, but ultimately, there's a big heart hidden underneath that army vest.
Matrisciano's face has often been hidden as well, but now a fuller picture of what he brings to the table at Memphis is being revealed. And from what the players are saying thus far, if the Tigers have big-time success this season, it shouldn't be a mystery that it will be because of the training they're doing right now.