Road to The Final Four: College Basketball's Deadliest Three-Headed Monsters
The NBA has historically been dominated by Big Threes. The Bulls had Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman. The Spurs had Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginolbi. The latest tremendous trio dominated in 2008, when Celtics Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce all finally won a title two seasons ago.
College basketball recently hasn't been subject to as many unbeatable terrific threesomes as the pro game, but three-headed monsters have penetrated late into the tournament.
Pittsburgh was one of the best teams in the country behind Sam Young, DeJuan Blair, and Levance Fields. In 2008, UCLA rode Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, and Darren Collison to the Final Four. Georgetown relied heavily upon Roy Hibbert, Jeff Green, and Jonathan Wallace in 2007.
Three-headed monsters must stand out from the rest of the team as a squad's top contributors. Ideally, a school's point guard, top rebounder and scorer would make up the trio, but as you'll see some schools have two or three players that stand out in one particular area.
Three-headed monsters listed in alphabetical order.
Boston University's John Holland, Corey Lowe, and Jake O'Brien
The Terriers' trio may all play different positions, but each is deadly at the same thing. John Holland, Corey Lowe, and Jake O'Brien are all snipers from beyond the arc. You won't find the threesome in the backcourt together, as Lowe is the only true guard of the three.
Holland spends a lot his time on the wing, while O'Brien—at 6'8"—should be near the basket. But with his shooting prowess, he's better suited to be near the perimeter when point guard Corey Lowe is slashing to the basket.
Together, the three players combine for 47 points per game and will be the reason Boston University has a great chance to return to the NCAA Tournament in 2010.
Connecticut's Kemba Walker, Jerome Dyson, and Stanley Robinson
Jim Calhoun has a history of turning freakish athletes into winners and NBA stars. He's got the same formula brewing with Connecticut's only three returning impact players.
Few point guards are as quick as Kemba Walker. And when I say few, I mean you can really only make the case that Devan Downey is faster than Walker, now that Ty Lawson and Jonny Flynn are gone to the NBA.
Watching Stanley Robinson jump is like a thing of beauty. To truly appreciate Robinson's leaping ability, just watch Robinson in the first round against Chattanooga or any part of the Huskies' 6-OT game against Syracuse.
Jerome Dyson won't blow anyone away with his athleticism, but he's a great scorer who fits in nicely between point guard Kemba Walker and power forward Stanley Robinson.
Georgetown's Greg Monroe, Austin Freeman, and Chris Wright
Jessie Sapp? Gone. DaJuan Summers? Gone.
But still in Washington, DC, is one of the nation's top triumvirates. Greg Monroe will be a Big East Player of the Year candidate in his sophomore season. Monroe won't have much help in the frontcourt, but two guards will be his supporting cast.
Chris Wright is developing into an outstanding point guard, while Austin Freeman has the makings of being one of the nation's top breakout players.
The three players gives John Thompson III an excellent floor general, scorer, and big man.
Illinois's Demetri McCamey, Mike Davis, and Mike Tisdale
Few point guards have the luxury of passing to one almost-seven footer, let alone two. Mike Tisdale towers at a lofty 7'1" and his frontcourt partner Mike Davis is close to seven feet even.
When point guard Demetri McCamey gets in a bind, he always has the option to dump the ball into the post to a big man with excellent post moves. McCamey has developed into a solid point guard during his first two seasons in Champaign.
Davis and Tisdale can at times be unstoppable. Few teams have the size to stop both at the same time.
The Illini do have two top freshmen coming in, which should take the pressure of the Illini threesome to carry the team.
Kansas State's Denis Clemente, Jacob Pullen, and Wallace Judge
Georgetown could have a fantastic foursome, but the Hoyas let Wally Judge get away to Manhattan, Kan. The power forward signed on to play for the Wildcats and will combine with a couple upperclassmen to form a tough triad.
Judge is a skinny post player with fat moves who should have a similar impact to former K-State stud freshman Michael Beasley. Judge will have two guards to compliment his inside game.
Clemente has shown a knack for knocking down the big shot after transferring from Miami. He won the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year award after he averaged 15 points per game for the Wildcats.
Clemente's partner in crime, Jacob Pullen, averaged almost 14 points per game last season, and the two together make up one of the best backcourts in the conference.
Oakland's Jonathan Jones, Derick Nelson, and Keith Benson
Last year, Oakland was expected to compete for a Summit League title, but an injury to Derick Nelson hampered the Golden Grizzlies' run at a championship. Nelson is back and has two running mates capable of putting the animal Stephen Colbert fears most in the NCAA tournament.
Derick Nelson would have been a frontrunner for Player of the Year honors had he not injured his foot. The forward averaged 17 points and seven rebounds during an outstanding 2007-2008 season.
Nelson's biggest competition for the same honor this season comes from teammate Jonathan Jones, who led the nation in assists per game (8.1) last season. Jones may see a dip in scoring with Nelson back, but he'll have a solid chance of leading the nation in assists again.
The final piece to Oakland's puzzle comes in the form of a 6'11" center. Keith Benson was one of the nation's most efficient offensive players. Benson exploded his sophomore season to score more than 14 points per game.
Oklahoma's Willie Warren, Keith Gallon, Tommy Mason-Griffin
The Sooners have the youngest top-drawer trio in the country. Sophomore Willie Warren played second-fiddle to the country's most explosive player last year, Blake Griffin. Warren has the talent to be an All-American this season and a lottery pick next year.
Warren's reinforcements come in the form of Keith "Tiny" Gallon and Tommy Mason-Griffin. Gallon is anything but tiny. The freshman center stands 6'9", but tips the scales around 300 pounds. He's got serious range for a man his size.
Coach Jeff Capel's other fearless freshman is point guard Tommy Mason-Griffin. He's a pass-first point guard that should be an exceptional complement to Willie Warren.
Purdue's E'Twaun Moore, Robbie Hummel, and JaJuan Johnson
Purdue's Chris Kramer is the best defensive player in the league, but it is Purdue's powerful posse of point-scorers that will perch the Boilermakers on the cusp of a Final Four this season.
E'Twaun Moore and Robbie Hummel had outstanding freshman seasons, but Moore didn't really take a step forward in 2009 and Hummel battled a balky back all season. JaJuan Johnson didn't really emerge until last year.
Now, the triumverates are poised to break out together as Moore and Hummel are serious All-American candidates, and Johnson isn't too far behind.
Radford's Artsiom Parakhouski, Joey Lynch-Flohr, and Lazar Trifunovic
Good luck getting the pronounciations right in one try through Radford's starting lineup. At least the Highlander public address announcer can rest easily at night knowing he's struggling through the names of one of the nation's most dominant trios.
Artsiom Parakhouski and Joey Lynch-Flohr are returning studs, while Lazar Trifunovic will play his first season for the Highlanders after starring for Binghamton. Parakhouski was the Big South Player of the Year and Lynch-Flohr was an all-league player last year.
Parakhouski and Lynch-Flohr are the center-power forward combination for the Highlanders, and newcomer Trifunovic will compete with the two for minutes at the four and five.
Richmond's David Gonzalvez, Kevin Anderson, and Dan Geriot
A bum knee is probably the only thing that stood between Richmond and an NIT berth last season. Center Dan Geriot missed all of last season with a torn ACL, but his presence probably would have only sprung the Spiders from the CBI to the second-most glamorous postseason tournament.
But this year's team is ready to turn another corner and the bulked-up Geriot will be at the center of it. If he returns to form, he could find himself fighting for Player of the Year honors with teammate Kevin Anderson.
Anderson is a skilled slasher and lethal scorer, especially alongside a deadly shooter like David Gonzalvez. He makes opponents remember him not for the extra "v" in his last name, but because of his ability to beat them from beyond. Gonzalvez shot over 40 percent from deep last year, and with Geriot clogging the paint, Gonzalvez might have an extra second to shoot sometimes.
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