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Maryland's Rasheed Sulaimon cherishes last shot at Final Four

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Maryland guard Rasheed Sulaimon's career was supposed to be highlighted with a Final Four, multiple ones really; at least, that's what he figured when he arrived at Duke as a freshman.

His actual path didn't turn out how he imagined. The Blue Devils lost to eventual national champion Louisville in 2013. They were upset in the first round by Mercer in 2014. Last season, on arguably Duke's most talented team in more than a decade, Sulaimon was dismissed from the team before its championship run.

Sulaimon doesn't spend time asking what if, only what now as the Terrapins prepare to face No. 1 seed Kansas on Friday.

"I'm with Maryland now, I'm not thinking about the past, I'm thinking about the future I have with this team right now," Sulaimon said. "We have an amazing opportunity in front of us. Since I've been with this team in August, we've worked hard, we've set our goals and we still have a chance to go further."

It has made him appreciate being in the tournament a bit more this year than he did in the past. It also has made his teammates look up to him with the deference afforded veterans.

Robert Carter Jr., who transferred from Georgia Tech, said the team has been leaning on Sulaimon's tournament knowledge.

"He's just brought experience, experience knowing what it takes to advance in this type of tournament," Carter said. "Being on the big stage pretty much his whole career, he knows how to handle the big moments and things like that. He helps the younger guys relax in these moments and stay calm."

Sulaimon helped the Terps confront a moment like that in the Round of 32 when Hawaii played them close for 30 minutes before Maryland went on a 14-0 run to go ahead for good.

Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said from a leadership perspective, Sulaimon didn't waste any time asserting himself with his new teammates.

"With his personality, he didn't really wait to start leading, he started doing it right away and our team needed it," Turgeon said. "Obviously, he was tremendous on Sunday night when we made our run. He was great defensively, made some nice plays offensively. He's been terrific. He's been everything and more than I was expecting."

Sulaimon, who averages 11.1 points and 3.5 rebounds, still is hoping to reach Final Four weekend -- which happens to be in his hometown of Houston. If the Terps can get there, it won't matter that it took him longer to get there than he expected.

"It's my last year in college regardless, so I want to go out with a bang," Sulaimon said. "No one wants to lose their last game. We have an opportunity to still achieve that and we have to take it one game at a time, and it starts with Kansas."