York's Hardek adjusts to bigger role
Adam Hardek played a vital role for York last season.
As a low-post threat, Hardek handled the bulk of the dirty work in the paint while showcasing his outside game to help open up the middle for the guards.
Now a senior, Hardek understands his role will shift dramatically for a program that puts a high value on teamwork, chemistry and leadership. Scoring and improved statistics are just part of the expectations for seniors at York.
"It's weird because a lot of guys left, all the big guys like Drew Kircher and Nick Hesch," Hardek said. "It's kind of up to all the new seniors. It's been a really weird start to the summer adjusting to that role. Me and the rest of the seniors have to figure it out. There's no one else to blame but us. I know I have to provide more leadership. It's not just about scoring.
"I have to talk to the team more, especially on defense and do a little more of everything. I have to help out the juniors like Braden Richardson."
The 6-foot-5 Hardek is a key player to watch if the Dukes plan on contending for the West Suburban Silver title. With defending Class 4A state champion Glenbard West losing all five starters from last season's historic team, the conference race is wide open next season.
The Dukes will miss the do-it-all Kircher, a three-year varsity player. Kircher averaged 14.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.5 steals a game.
Hardek said he benefited from the spring AAU season playing against several taller and bigger players.
"I played in a lot of tournaments this spring," Hardek said. "It was a great experience playing against other big guys, especially bigger and taller guys. It's nice to come back and work on my game against some not so big guys. I've also tried to become a better passer and player. Just whatever coach wants."
Junior guard AJ Levine said he's ready to attempt to fill the big shoes of Kircher at point guard. Levine said he tried to model his game after Kircher after playing a sixth-man role.
"I learned a lot from Drew," Levine said. "He had the role of scoring, so I kind of modeled my game after him this year. I worked on mostly contested pullup shots, finishing and passing and having control of the ball all the time.
"I'm trying to do the same thing as Drew. I don't want to have any turnovers and know I have to control the ball and run the offense well."
York coach Mike Dunn said the Dukes (17-12, 3-9) are motivated to improve on last season after finishing sixth in the conference.
"We have some good kids coming back," Dunn said. "Summer is a great opportunity to evaluate and improve every day. That's what we're trying to do. We've got 20-plus kids in camp. We're trying to play hard and be hungry every day and looking to compete and run our system.
"AJ is a player who played a lot last year. We want him and [Hardek] to take the next step, especially in a leadership role and replace our senior class. They've done a good job so far. We're excited to be back together and practicing and playing a ton of games this summer."