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How the Golden State Warriors made their mark on the Final Four

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This is what the Golden State Warriors hath wrought: North Carolina sophomore Joel Berry II in a gym launching 3-pointers, shooting until his arms are wobbly and weak with fatigue, shooting while his teammates head to a post-practice meeting, shooting still when they poke their heads back into the gym after the meeting is completed, stopping only once he misses two 3-pointers in a row.

At shot No. 251.

"Oh my god, 251? That's a lot," said Warriors guard Klay Thompson, the architect of the shooting drill Berry followed. "College 3? Still, that's pretty good. That's really good. Sheesh. ... I'm not gonna try and break 251. That's a lot of jump shots. He's got me there."

No worry, Klay. Someone else hopes to beat Berry.

"Two-fifty-one? That's crazy," says Oklahoma's Buddy Hield. "I need to get back in the gym."

Because this, too, is what Golden State hath wrought: A cross-country competition between Oklahoma and North Carolina.

Fueled by their head coaches, the two Final Four programs have been going back and forth all season, trying to outdo each other in the drill Thompson first used back in 2013.

At 251, Berry is the current record holder unless (until?) Hield tries to top it in Houston.

"It's really cool. It's amazing, really," Thompson said of his impact on college players and more, this Final Four. "I honestly never thought I would have this much influence. It's something that inspires me to work even harder on parts of my game and show people that the sky's the limit. It doesn't always have to be about the athletic factor."

For Thompson, it's a bit of paying things forward. Back in college at Washington State, he was a shooting-drill mimic himself, copying something he saw Ray Allen do.

Following Allen's drill, Thompson would start at the short corner elbow, move on to the elbows and then to the opposite corner elbows and so forth, shooting 3s. The goal was to make 10 shots, but it came with a twist -- with every miss you'd have to deduct one from your total.

"So if you missed at five, you'd go back down to four; and if you missed at four, you'd have to go back down to three," Thompson explained. "And you had to keep making 3s until you got to 10."

Thompson's drill may be a little less complicated -- keep shooting from the arc until you miss two in a row -- but it creates the same sort of pressure and requires equal focus.

And that's what Steve Henson found so appealing about it.

The Oklahoma assistant coach heard about the drill from Eric Musselman, the current Nevada coach, longtime itinerant NBA boss and frequent aggregator of information. Musselman loves to send tips and ideas to his coaching friends, and when he read about Thompson's drill in an article, he texted the link to his pals, including Henson.

Henson knew he had the perfect guy to give it a try.

Hield rarely misses in a shooting drill -- not once, much less twice in a row -- plus he's already a Stephen Curry/Klay Thompson savant.

"I've watched them a lot," Hield said. "I really focus on how they get open and study their quick release, getting rid of the ball as fast as they can to get the shot off."

As soon as Henson pitched the idea to him -- and gave him numbers to beat: 122 for Thompson, 76 for Curry -- Hield was hooked. He immediately went into the practice gym and, with Henson setting him up, started shooting. He drained 142 before he missed two in a row.

This story might have ended there, except as reporters came through Norman this season, in search of enlightenment on how Hield became Buddy Buckets, Henson often told the story of that drill.

Somewhere -- he can't remember where -- Roy Williams read about it. "I love to do things like this, little challenges between teams," Williams said. 'I've done it with [Michigan coach] John Beilein before. It's a lot of fun for the guys." So Williams told his sharpshooter, Marcus Paige, about the drill and about Hield's 142 3s.

The senior promptly went in the gym and gave it a try.

He drained 156.

Williams couldn't resist. He told Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger. "One day Coach Kruger comes down and he half-kiddingly tells Buddy that Marcus Paige hit 156," Henson said. "Buddy looks at me and says, 'We have to try and beat it.' I don't think we'd even done the drill since that one time but we had like 15 minutes before Buddy had to leave, so he said, 'Let's go."'

Hield dropped 197.

Naturally, that number got back to the North Carolina camp, which is when Berry decided to see what he had in him. Largely because of Paige's shooting savvy -- and despite his case of the yips this season -- Berry's stroke sometimes goes unnoticed. But he's a terrific rhythm shooter and, at 37.6 percent this season, the Tar Heels' most consistent weapon from beyond the arc. He had no clue what he could do, didn't even set a goal for himself. He just started shooting. And then never stopped.

"I couldn't believe we came back out after our meeting and he was still shooting," Kennedy Meeks said.

Berry lost count somewhere along the way -- he actually thought he had more than 251, but a team manager was keeping count -- and he's not sure how long it took. Maybe 20 minutes, maybe longer. He lost track of that, too.

"It got to the point where I wasn't in the groove like I was in the beginning because my arms were so heavy," Berry II said. "I felt like I was shooting forever. I was shooting against myself, but I also wanted to see if I could beat Buddy."

For now, he has.

As of Tuesday, Hield hadn't had a chance to top Berry. He wrote via text that he was holding out hope he'd give it a go on Wednesday, before the Sooners left for Houston. Of course the ultimate shooting showdown could come on Monday night. Oklahoma and North Carolina are on opposite sides of the bracket and, with wins against Villanova and Syracuse respectively, would meet in the national championship game.

At least if the game is won on a 3-pointer, everyone will know who to credit: the Golden State Warriors, naturally.

ESPN.com's David Lombardi contributed reporting.