Shanoff's WUC: Vonn, Hummel, Expectations

Today's Calls: Canada vs. Russia, Lindsey Vonn vs. Julia Mancuso, Purdue vs. Expectations, Kobe vs. Dirk, Kevin Durant vs. Manu Ginobili, Mark McGwire vs. Jay McGwire and More. ↵

↵Lindsey VonnThe Opening Pitch: Injuries change everything. ↵

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↵They are the X-factor that take sky-high expectations and turn them into coulda-woulda-shoulda lamentations. I'm thinking of two situations today: ↵

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↵— Lindsey Vonn crashed in the giant slalom, breaking her finger and otherwise battering her body. It's unclear if she will be able to compete — let alone medal — in tomorrow's slalom, her final event. For now, she has had a solid but not transcendent Games, with two medals and two spills. She can define her own myth by book-ending that Games-starting gold with another medal to finish it out. ↵

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↵— Purdue's Robbie Hummel tweaked his knee last night, and while the Boilermakers are good enough to win without him — barely — at Minnesota, they are not good enough to fulfill their Final Four potential with a four- or five-win run in the NCAA Tournament without him. There is plenty of time for Hummel's knee to heal, but it raises the reality that Purdue's dream season is tenuous. Would you pick Purdue to advance to the Final Four if they didn't have a completely healthy Hummel? I wouldn't. Call it the "Colt McCoy Rule." ↵

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↵We all want to see our athletes and teams competing based on ideal conditions. Where things get most interesting — and obviously not always for the better — is when those conditions change. ↵

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↵Canada crushes Russia: Is it possible — just possible — that losing to the U.S. was the best thing to ever happen to Canada? What's the chance they play as motivated (and jaw-droppingly well) as they did against Russia if it wasn't on the heels of being humiliated by the U.S.? ↵

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↵(The U.S. advanced — not particularly impressively — to meet Finland in tomorrow's semifinal round, which will — get this — be carried live, even though the game will be at 3 p.m. Obviously, that's the right call by NBC, and it should make for a really fun late-afternoon with everyone watching the game.) ↵

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↵Olympics: On tap, biggest night yet? For all the stories about eye-popping TV ratings for these Games, the biggest night yet could come tonight, with the women's figure skating long-form "free" skate. ↵

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↵NFL Draft Combine: The most intriguing moment might come today, when Sam Bradford undergoes a "pre-physical" and an X-ray on that bum shoulder. I don't care how talented he is; I find it hard to believe that his shoulder will be able to withstand the combo of punishment from NFL D-lineman and a mediocre line in front of him. ↵

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↵L.T. leaves San Diego: Given that he has all the money he will ever need, Tomlinson should take a "champ's discount" to join a contender. To Drew Brees's point, why NOT New Orleans? Or New England? ↵

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↵CBB Bubble Watch: Tough losses for San Diego State (at BYU) and Dayton (at Temple). They aren't out of it yet, but if the field was set today, they would be NIT-bound. Still time to help their resume, though. ↵

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↵Pitt confounds: After rolling through Nova, at Marquette and West Virginia, the Panthers lose to Notre Dame (playing without Luke Harangody). It's like a big flashing sign "WILL BUST YOUR BRACKET." ↵

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↵Varnado a record-setter: No matter how Mississippi State finishes the season — NCAAs or NIT or nothing — center Jarvis Varnado can always claim that he became the NCAA's leading career shot-blocker. ↵

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↵Big Ten expansion: No Texas? UT AD DeLoss Dodds insists that he hasn't talked with the Big Ten about joining them. That doesn't mean that (a) no one related to Texas has talked with anyone related to the Big Ten or (b) Texas hasn't talked about it amongst themselves. They would be crazy not to model out the numbers. ↵

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↵McGwire Scandal, Cont'd: Needless to say, Mark's brother Jay doesn't quite agree with his sibling's story. ↵

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↵Derek Jeter and the Yankees: It's not that Jeter doesn't want to be a Yankee or that the Yankees don't want Jeter; it's the uncomfortable reality that a few years down the line, they'll be paying him a ton to not be very good and he will likely still be insisting he continue to play shortstop. ↵

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↵If Adrian Gonzalez won't give the Padres a hometown discount, that dramatically increases the chance that his next hometown will be with a new team — say, Boston — that can afford him. ↵

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↵NBA Talking Points: Kobe might be back, but that doesn't mean he's ready for back-to-back road games, including the second one being at revamped, energized Dallas. I'm sure Kobe is thinking: "Whatever. Let's see you in May." ↵

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↵Durant streak over: His streak of games scoring at least 25 points (3rd-longest in NBA history) was ended at 29 games by the Spurs. ↵

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↵Tiger Watch: You know your brand has eroded when PETA is making fun of you on a billboard. ↵

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↵The Last Word: "I was like a pretzel." ↵
↵— Lindsey Vonn, after her crash in the giant slalom. ↵

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↵Dan Shanoff writes The Wake-Up Call every weekday morning for SportingNews.com and blogs daily at DanShanoff.com. Got any comments, questions or feedback? Email Dan at shanofftsn-[at]-gmail-[dot]-com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/danshanoff. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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