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January 17, 2013For the last four years, "The Journey" on the Big Ten Network has given the conference's basketball fans an unprecedented inside look at the important programs, stories and games of the season.
The visually and emotionally compelling show has become must-see TV for Big Ten fans, and this season - which premiered last weekend - is no different.
But the producers and creators of the show knew they wanted to try a few different angles and story-telling angles this season.
Saturday night at 10 p.m., the second episode of the season will debut, and will highlight the fruits of that creative labor.
"We wanted to try something new out with the show and explore different ways of telling the story of this season," BTN coordinating producer Bill Friedman said. "So instead of focusing on a few big games this week, this episode is exclusively about point guards.
"We highlighted four guys - and really, there are so many great point guards in the league, that we felt like we left eight great players out - including Trey Burke and Ohio State's Aaron Craft. And it really worked out well, because we could go into the battle between Craft and Burke that happened last weekend."
Minnesota's Andre Hollins and Penn State's D.J. Newbill, who is adjusting to life in the spotlight after starter Tim Frazier sustained a season-ending injury, will also be highlighted in the episode.
Friedman is very happy with the way the episode turned out.
He said the show - and its football counterpart - will be open to more exploratory ways to tell stories in the future.
"We want to put the best show on the air for people. But at the same time, we want to be fresh," Friedman said. "We don't want to fall into a routine, where our viewers are thinking, 'I've seen this before but with different faces and names.' We're always looking for interesting stories.
"We'll always be looking for star players and coaches, but we challenge ourselves to go off the beaten path and find stories about people who aren't so prominent or, in this case, do an episode that is centered around a position, looking at what playing point guard in the Big Ten is all about."
Burke, who stormed onto the scene as a freshman and helped the Wolverines win the regular-season Big Ten title, was a big fixture on "The Journey" last year.
Friedman and Co. have used this opportunity to continue to build on angles they took with Burke during segments last season, while still introducing new ones.
"Some of the things we talked about were his decision to return to Michigan this year, what he has learned from that and how he benefitted from that," Friedman said. "You see that with his play on the court this year: more assists, fewer turnovers, better shooting percentage, higher scoring average. I think it was clearly the right decision.
"The other thing we talked about was what it was like when he did get to go home and play in Columbus. We touched on that last year. One of the things we like to do on our show is have storylines that aren't just a one-and-done kind of a thing, but ones that have a lifespan.
"Last year, we did a lot of stuff on Trey and his relationship with Jared Sullinger's father and being from Columbus. We did a lot of this last year, and we wanted to revisit that this year, prior to his second return trip."
The creators of "The Journey" have also started to incorporate other multimedia and social media tools into its presentation, in order to gives fans even more access to their favorite teams.
To follow the show on Twitter, go to its page @BTNJourney.
"We brand our show as really peeling back the curtain for the Big Ten. We want to live up to that for ourselves, as well," Friedman said. "So we here at the show have a really active presence on Twitter.. We try to give updates and take pictures along the way, so people get a taste of what is to come. For anyone who likes the show, it's a great resource for them. We have behind-the-scenes footage and bonus content."