There were plenty of tough games in between, but victory No. 600 wasn't much more difficult for Cal basketball coach Mike Montgomery than No. 1.
The Golden Bears breezed past Hartford 74-56 on Tuesday night at Haas Pavilion, giving Montgomery his 600th victory as an NCAA Division I coach.
The win came 32 years after he directed Montana to a 61-41 triumph over Wisconsin-Stout to open the 1978-79 season. Gasoline was 63 cents a gallon in those days, Jimmy Carter was president, and Magic Johnson and Larry Bird were headed to a magical meeting in the collegiate national championship game.
Montgomery becomes just the seventh active coach to post 600 Division I victories, joining the likes of Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim and Jim Calhoun.
"Just happy to get a win. It's an even number," said Montgomery, who gave high-fives to his wife, daughter and a couple young nephews in the stands above the team bench before dashing off the court.
Asked if he remembered his first game, Montgomery chuckled and said, "It's a good chance it was Doane College or Wisconsin-Stout. I wonder if they're still available."
Montgomery won 154 games in eight seasons at Montana, then 393 in 18 seasons at Stanford, where he reached the 1998 Final Four. He is now 53-27 in his third season at Berkeley.
Freshman Allen Crabbe said Montgomery told the players afterward he wants to start adding to the victory total Sunday at Stanford when the Bears (7-5) begin defense of their 2010 Pac-10 title.
"He was (asking), could we get to 612 or 615 by the end of the season?" said Crabbe, who celebrated the occasion with a career-high 17 points to go with nine rebounds. "We just laughed about it. It's a challenge for us to see if we can get some victories in the Pac-10."
"We'll try to get to six (hundred) and some teens," said Montgomery, who stressed that the young Bears remain a work in progress. "I'd like to have another two years of practice."
Freshman Richard Solomon, Crabbe's teammate last season at Price High-Los Angeles, contributed career highs of 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Harper Kamp led the Bears with 19 points and nine rebounds and sophomore point guard Brandon Smith, the De La Salle High grad, had a career-high 15 points in his first career start.
Hartford (2-9) actually led 10-9 after six minutes until Cal used a 15-2 run to open a 24-12 lead. The margin peaked at 57-32 after two free throws by Smith with 12:30 left in the game.
For the first time this season, Montgomery shuffled his starting lineup. He gave senior center Markhuri Sanders-Frison the night off to rest his feet, both of which are suffering from plantar fasciitis. Bak Bak got his first career start and responded with 10 rebounds, his career-best.
Smith replaced freshman guard Gary Franklin, who is mired in a long shooting slump. It turns out, Franklin also had a touch of the flu and played just 10 minutes.
It was a rough night for Hartford senior Morgan Sabia, a graduate of Sir Francis Drake High-San Anselmo, who shot 2 for 10 and scored five points in his homecoming.
Cal at Stanford, 5 p.m., CSNBA
The 600 club
Active men's basketball coaches with the most career NCAA Division I victories:
1. Mike Krzyzewski, Duke 879
2. Jim Boeheim, Syracuse 843
3. Jim Calhoun, Connecticut 833
4. Gary Williams, Maryland 657
5. Roy Williams, N. Carolina 623
6. Bob Huggins, W. Virginia 607
7. Mike Montgomery, Cal 600