As the Alabama family celebrated the introduction of Greg Byrne as the school’s new director of athletics, Avery Johnson’s basketball squad set their sights set on a big rivalry game this weekend.

The Crimson Tide travel across the state to face arch-rival Auburn. Alabama enters the game 11-6 overall including a 4-1 SEC record while Auburn is 12-6 overall and 2-4 in league play.

During Thursday’s edition of The Suttles Approach, Alabama basketball play-by-play voice Chris Stewart offered a progress report on the 2016-2017 season.

While Alabama has not posted many spectacular wins or any embarrassing losses, Stewart listed areas where he has seen the team improve.

“I think being able to understand roles, being able to get into a true rotation as they have over the last month. With that, you’ve seen this team rebound the ball extremely well, much, much better than they have been.” Stewart said.

Alabama basketball’s veteran play-by-play voice noted turnovers as a problematic issue for the Crimson Tide.

“Where there’s been a problem is when they turn the basketball over and take bad shots that lead to transition opportunities for the other team, and they are not able to get that half court set, then they’re pretty average.” Stewart said.

Another chronic issue that Alabama is trying to solve is at the free throw line. The Crimson Tide made just 50 percent of their free throws in their only SEC loss to Florida and shot below 50 percent in Wednesday’s victory over Missouri. Stewart touched on the free throw shooting woes and posed a theory as to why it is happening.

“It’s frustrating because I know they work on it. I know that there is, for lack of a better term, there’s punishment that comes with failure at the free throw line, but at the same time, you can’t make the shots for them. It doesn’t matter sometimes how much you work on something. It gets between the ears. It gets contagious.” Stewart said.

Stewart went on to preview the upcoming stretch of SEC games for Alabama as well as the play of transfer guard Avery Johnson, Jr.

Alabama tips off the first of two regular season contests with Auburn Saturday at 3 PM from Auburn Arena. The game will be televised on ESPN2.

Catch The Suttles Approach every weekday from Noon to 2 PM on Tide 102.9/100.9 and the radioPup app.