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Lacrosse great Grant helps boost Bayhawks into first place

John Grant Jr. has the longest list of accomplishments of any of the Chesapeake Bayhawks, but he doesn't want his pedigree to be a focus.

He just wants to be a piece of the Major League Lacrosse team's winning puzzle.

"They've been doing a phenomenal job without me," said Grant, who missed the Bayhawks' first three games while finishing his indoor season in Canada. "I'm not here to take over. ... We're tied for first, and now it's time to get the motor going and get some wins at home."

The Bayhawks sit tied atop the MLL standings at 4-1 and will begin a stretch of three straight home games when they host the Charlotte Hounds at 7 p.m. Saturday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis. It will be Grant's third game with the team, which is 2-0 when he takes field.

After the Bayhawks acquired him in an offseason trade with the Long Island Lizards, Grant has three goals and four assists.

Considered one of the best attackmen in MLL history, Grant ranked sixth in career goals (205), tied for seventh in assists (102) and was seventh in points (325) entering this season.

The 37-year-old has also had success in the National Lacrosse League, an indoor league, which is a faster and more open game because the rules allow just six players per side on the field at one time; by comparison, the outdoor game has 10 per side. Grant has 469 goals, 508 assists and 977 points in his NLL career through 2011, which rank third, seventh and fifth all time, respectively.

The Peterborough, Ontario, native has left his stamp on the NCAA record books, too. In 1999, Grant registered 110 points for Delaware, the second-most all time in a single Division I season.

Grant has played indoor lacrosse since childhood and he considers that his strength. After playing an entire winter inside, Grant said, it can be difficult to get caught up to speed at the beginning of the outdoor season.

"I'm a box lacrosse guy through and through," Grant said. "When you play all winter long, it takes a few games to get your turf legs on and get used to where I'm supposed to be. I just tried to stay out of my teammates' way the first few games [with the Bayhawks]."

Bayhawks coach Dave Cottle said Grant's ability to create space in one-on-one situations gives his offense, which often takes 2-point shots, another option on the attack, especially as the shot clock is winding down.

"We've got a pretty strong midfield group and we have a tendency to shoot our way out of trouble," Cottle said. "With John, he can get a dodge and leverage and get some inside shots ... and if you're moving and you're open, John Grant will get you the ball."

Grant hasn't practiced with Bayhawks yet this year but will give priority to the MLL over an informal indoor league he's playing in. He will not play in a game or practice the night before a Bayhawks contest.

While he gets accustomed to his teammates as he starts to spend more time with them, Grant will try to help free up space for midfielders such as Kyle Dixon (Archbishop Spalding), who Grant said ranks among the world's best 2-point shooters.

Grant said he is still settling in and trying to become familiar with the tendencies of his teammates.

"It'll take some time to get used to and develop the chemistry with these guys," Grant said. "I'm pretty good behind the net and can open up lanes for guys when the defense is focused on protecting the middle."

Although he is one of the most experienced MLL players, Grant hasn't taken on a leadership role yet because he hasn't been around the team much.

Cottle said he wants some of his younger players to learn and grow under one of the game's all-time elite.

"We don't want a hired gun," Cottle said. "We want him into the fabric of our team in the locker room and at practice. We've got the best of both worlds — a talented player who wants to win and be a part of the team."

Grant at a glance

Height/Weight: 6 feet 2, 225 pounds

Age: 37

Hometown: Peterborough, Ontario

Alma mater: Delaware, 2000

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