SCORECARD, Nov. 13, 2006
IN THE WAKE of her appearance on NBC's Deal or No Deal, Tennessee State women's basketball coach Tracee Jones got two things she had been pining for: a brand-new BMW 328i and a win. In a show that aired on Oct. 30, Jones won $265,000—which financed her new ride. But after she took the cash, she found out that the briefcase she gave up to get it contained $1 million. Adding to her agony, the show's mysterious Banker made a crack about her team: TSU was 0--27 last season, Jones's first.
Jones (below) told the Banker, "Not to worry, the winning will start now." And it did. The Lady Tigers broke a 30-game losing streak on Nov. 27, downing Lipscomb 64--52, and are now 5--15. "It's not what we want, but it's a step," Jones says. "I think the Banker helped motivate the team. They couldn't believe he made that comment."
The attention from the show has died down—"It was hard to go to the grocery store at first," Jones says—but the exposure has bolstered attendance at home games. (It's up 54%.) Jones says that Deal reminded her of being in a tight game, but with higher stakes. Her boyfriend, Austin Peay assistant and former NBA player Bubba Wells, felt it too. "When I played, I never got nervous because I had some control in the game," he said. "But for this, my hands were shaking. I was more nervous than she was."