Is it possible to set up Blender to have rotation controllers similar to Maya?
Preview of Maya's rotation controllers:
Just enable the 'Transform Manipulator' in the 3D header:
Ctrl+Space will toggle the Transform Manipulator on or off. You can also Shift select the options beside the Transform Manipulator option to show the Location, Rotation and Scale controls at the same time.
For blender 2.8 the manipulator section is on the toolbox on left of the screen (if you can't see it press T)